On The Road To The Kentucky Derby, The Holy Bull Is Going To Be A Speed Race With Tough Competition

Written By Andrew Champagne on February 5, 2022 - Last Updated on February 27, 2022

One of the most closely watched paths on the road to the Kentucky Derby is the one going through Florida. Its highest-profile racetrack, Gulfstream Park, will host a key early-season prep race on Saturday, when nine 3-year-olds go postward for the Grade 3 Holy Bull.

This event is named after one of the fastest horses of the 1990s. Many winners have used it as a springboard, including 2020 winner Tiz the Law and 2006 hero Barbaro.

Let’s take a look and see if there’s money to be made in this year’s renewal!

A beatable favorite from top trainer Pletcher

No. 2 Mo Donegal has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. He shipped to Florida after capturing the Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct late last year and goes out for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, who also conditions last week’s Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup winner Life Is Good.

That said, I have my doubts here. He didn’t beat a ton two back, and the Remsen was contested over a very quirky Aqueduct surface. Success or failure in one race isn’t always indicative of future success or failure elsewhere. Based on speed figures, he’s good enough to run well, and it won’t be a big shock if he wins Saturday. At his short price, though, I’m looking elsewhere, at least on top.

Here are a few alternatives to look at instead

No. 9 Giant Game has gotten better in each of his three career starts. After running third in his debut, he stretched out to two turns with aplomb to break his maiden at Keeneland. That race also included Call Me Midnight, who has since won the Grade 3 Lecomte (a Derby prep at Fair Grounds in Louisiana). His connections took a big swing off of that race when they ran him in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he ran well to finish third that day despite a wide trip. He’ll have to navigate a tricky post position with a short run into the first turn, but he’s been training very well and has attracted jockey Luis Saez.

I’ll also include two others. No. 4 Simplification looks like the main early speed in here and rode a “main early speed” trip to a four-length score in the Mucho Macho Man last month. Two turns is a question mark, but the recent six-furlong drills indicate he may be able to stretch out. In addition, No. 8 White Abarrio returns to Gulfstream after a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He’s won his two local starts by nearly 11 lengths, and the recent four-furlong workout jumps off the page.

Betting strategies for the Holy Bull

I think Giant Game could be a pretty serious player on the road to this year’s Kentucky Derby. His 7-2 morning line price may present an opportunity at some value. I’ll bet him to win, and I’ll key him in exactas above and below the three others I’ve mentioned.

  • $15 win: 9 ($15)
  • $2 exacta box: 9 with 2, 4, 8 ($12, $27)
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Andrew Champagne

Andrew Champagne is a Content Manager at Catena Media, as well as an award-winning horse racing writer and handicapper. Originally from upstate New York, he now resides in Concord, California. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne.

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