Holy Bull: An Enduring Legacy of Brilliance
Welcome to 2023 Kentucky Derby Prospect Snapshots, where we’ll take a look each week at a recent winner on the Triple Crown trail, usually from a race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule. That schedule consists of prep races offering qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, running from September 2022 through mid-April 2023.
The 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will be held May 6, 2023, at Churchill Downs.
This week, we’ll take a closer look at Dubyuhnell, winner of the $250,000 Remsen Stakes on Dec. 3 at Aqueduct.
Dubyuhnell earned 10 points toward qualifying for the 2023 Kentucky Derby with the Remsen win and moved into fifth place on the latest Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 10 points.
Racing Résumé: Dubyuhnell has won two straight races after fading late in his career debut at 17.20-1 odds Sept. 3, 2022, at Saratoga Race Course. He followed that fourth-place finish with a comfortable 2 ½-length victory in a one-mile race that was washed off the grass onto a sloppy main track Oct. 2 at Aqueduct.
Racing on another sloppy track for the 1 1/8-mile Remsen, Dubyuhnell pressed the pace from second and outfinished pacesetter Arctic Arrogance to prevail by a half-length as the 4-1 third betting choice. While he handled the added distance in the Remsen, Dubyuhnell did not finish particularly fast with a final eighth of a mile in 13.28 seconds and a final three-eighths of a mile in :38.59 according to Trakus data.
“This colt here I think is more of the Derby type of horse because he wants to get the distance,” winning trainer Danny Gargan said. “A mile and an eighth suits him and he came running at the end. They were going fast. He was up towards the lead and they went three-quarters in 1:12 and change and that’s running today.”
Speed Figures: In this blog, I often talk about the premise that Thoroughbred racehorses frequently show significant improvement late in their 2-year-old seasons or as early-season 3-year-olds. It’s common to see a big jump for any number of factors like physical development, emotional maturation, or simply figuring out exactly what their job entails as a racehorse. From a speed-figure perspective, Dubyuhnell took a major step forward in the Remsen, improving his Equibase Speed Figure 23 points to a career-best 101 and his Beyer Speed Figure 20 points to a personal best of 90. Those are very solid for Dubyuhnell’s third career start and indicate he is a quality contender on the 2023 Derby trail.
Running Style: He showed speed in the Remsen, which was a new dimension after Dubyuhnell was sixth after the opening quarter-mile in his previous race and had 4 ¾ lengths to make up in that race at the quarter-pole. The ability to press (as in the Remsen) or stalk the pace should be a big benefit as tactical speed is a huge asset both on the path to the Kentucky Derby and in the 1 ¼-mile first jewel of the Triple Crown when facing a field of as many as 20 3-year-olds.
Connections: Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings bred Dubyuhnell in Kentucky and Stonestreet Stables maintained an interest in the Good Magic colt after he sold for $400,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September yearling sale to West Paces Racing, via agent Oracle Bloodstock.
Danny Gargan has been training full-time for about eight years; prior to that he trained a few horses for himself and friends steadily beginning in 2013. Several horses he claimed, such as Divine Miss Grey and Tax, went on to enjoy graded stakes success with Tax competing in the 2019 Kentucky Derby and running fourth that year in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. Gargan has a strong lifetime winning percentage of 22% from more than 1,800 starters.
Jockey Jose Ortiz has been aboard Dubyuhnell for all three of his starts. The 2017 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding jockey won the 2022 Preakness Stakes on Early Voting and the 2017 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets on Tapwrit. He finished second in the 2018 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve aboard Dubyuhnell’s sire, Good Magic.
Pedigree Notes: Dubyuhnell is from the first crop of Good Magic, the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and champion 2-year-old male. As mentioned above, Good Magic ran second the following year in the Kentucky Derby and he posted wins in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes and betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes.
Multiple graded stakes winner Wild Gams, by Forest Wildcat, is the dam (mother) of Dubyuhnell as well as Grade 2 winner Cazadero and stakes winner Mt. Brave. A sprinter who won seven stakes and earned $1,198,486, Wild Gams has proved quite proficient in her second career as a broodmare.
Derby Potential: Given Dubyuhnell’s two wins to date both came on sloppy tracks, I would like to see him excel on a dry (fast) main track before I get too excited about his Kentucky Derby chances. While his connections have expressed confidence that he’s a two-turn, distance racehorse, there is quite a bit of speed on the bottom half of his pedigree that concerns me a bit as it pertains to winning at 1 ¼ miles.
That said, Dubyuhnell took a major step forward in the Remsen and will now ship to Florida for Gargan and his owners. There are plenty of options for qualifying points races in Florida on the Derby trail – the $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park Feb. 4, the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 11, and others deeper into the season – but Gargan said he would consider a return trip to Aqueduct for the $250,000 Withers Stakes on Feb. 4.
With just modest improvement in the coming months, Dubyuhnell should be a legitimate player on the path to Louisville for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.