You know things are beginning to get serious on the road to the Kentucky Derby when the major juvenile colts begin to make their season debut. Shanghai Bobby, 2012 Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, will attempt to maintain his unbeaten record in Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull. Is there a horse in the field that can pose a major challenge to the favorite?
Undefeated Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby leads a field of ten three-year-old colts in Saturday's Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The Holy Bull is the tenth race on the card with a scheduled post time of 5:05pm Eastern. HRTV will provide live television coverage.
Shanghai Bobby's first start in 2013 won't be a walk in the park - the Holy Bull features a deep cast of nine rivals for the juvenile champion and will provide a stern test on the road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Some quick thoughts on the field:
- Shanghai Bobby comes into the Holy Bull off of a nice series of works at Palm Meadows and he hasn't dealt with any physical issues (that we know of) to suggest he's not ready for his first start of 2013. Honestly, in order to Shanghai Bobby to get me on the "Derby Bandwagon", I need to see him pop a big effort. He's run good, solid races in his career to this point, but I'm still looking for that effort that let's me know that he's a serious, top-class Derby contender
- Itsmyluckyday looks like the colt to take the "best other than Shanghai Bobby" mantel in the Holy Bull. He popped a huge race on New Year's Day when he won the GP Derby by almost seven lengths over Sr. Quisqueyano. His only other try against graded stakes company was a bit of a disaster when he finished sixth, over seven lengths back in the Delta Jackpot. But that race was an eternity ago when we're talking about a young, still-developing colt, and he looked to be the real deal in his most recent win. This colt's already won over an off track, so keep that in mind if things get sloppy on Saturday.
- Dewey Square and Frac Daddy are kind of the wild cards in the field. Both colts displayed some talent during their juvenile campaign, with both horses winning a two-turn race over the Churchill Downs main track. Where things get somewhat complicated is with respect to the Kentucky Jockey Club in late November, a race that came back really slow in terms of speed figures.
The Holy Bull should help us take another look at the Kentucky Jockey Club in attempting to confirm or discredit the numbers from that race. If Dewey Square and Frac Daddy both come back to run improved races, perhaps we were just looking at a funky track that day at Churchill Downs. If they duplicate there Ky Jockey Club numbers in the Holy Bull, perhaps that race was truly on the weak side. Unfortunately, we're a little bit in limbo with those colts until we see how they run on Saturday.
I'll take a cautious approach with Dewey Square and Frac Daddy, and I'll demand a decent price on either before I toss them into the wagering mix.
- I'm not sure how far likely long shot Tulira Castle really wants to run. He looked good winning an OC $75k/N1X event at a one-turn mile in early December, but he's got a whole lot of half-brothers and sisters that did nothing but sprint. Overall, his siblings are 115-25-26-15 in dirt sprints, and just 6-1-1-1 when going a route of ground.
- Fredericksburg ran well in his first try on dirt in that same OC event that Tulira Castle won on Dec. 8. His dam, Choreograph, hadn't thrown anything but turf winners so it was nice to see Fredericksburg with enough dirt ability to win at the allowance level. It remains to be seen whether he can run a race good enough to hang with the top contenders in this field.
- Clearly Now is another first-time-dirt horse looking to make the transition from Woodbine to the Kentucky Derby trail. The last two that attempted that feat (Avie's Quality and Avare; although in Avare's case he had won over a wet/fast surface at Santa Anita) flopped badly. Looking at Clearly Now's female side, it's hard to get excited about this colt on dirt. His dam, Bend, won three times, all on grass. His only half-sibling, Salvar, won twice on the lawn. Not a lot to go on but enough to make me leery of this colt's ability to transfer his form to dirt.
Below are the entries and post positions for Saturday's Holy Bull. I'll update the morning line odds when they are released.
|G3-Holy Bull Stakes; Post Time: 5:05pm Eastern|
|1||Shanghai Bobby||R. Napravnik||T. Pletcher||4/5|
|2||Frac Daddy||D. Cohen||K. McPeek||8/1|
|3||Clearly Now||L. Saez||B. Lynch||12/1|
|4||Bern Identity||P. Lopez||K. Breen||4/1|
|5||Sr. Quisqueyano||J. Rosario||L. Olivares||20/1|
|6||Dewey Square||C. Lanerie||D. Romans||12/1|
|7||Itsmyluckyday||E. Trujillo||E. Plesa, Jr.||6/1|
|8||Tulira Castle||J. Castellano||J. DiVito||30/1|
|9||Fredericksburg||J. Velazquez||M. Matz||30/1|
|10||Joshua's Compromise||K. Desormeaux||B. Rose||50/1|