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2011 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Kicks Off Derby Season in Earnest


We’ve got more than a few of our top ten 2011 Kentucky Derby contenders lining up for a go in a race that has been a kingmaker in the past- the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. This 1m contest boasts a total purse of $400,000 and rates as a Grade 3- any victory here will immediately propel a contender to the top of the Derby rankings for the time being. There are still plenty more big preps to come in February and March, but a score here throws down the gauntlet for Uncle Mo (Indian Charlie) who is expected to run in the Tampa Bay Derby.

The biggest name on the sheet at the moment appears to be Boys At Tosconova (Officer), whose only blemish is a second place to Uncle Mo in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The Richard Dutrow-trained bay or brown colt really had no chance on the day but still got up to finish a very credible second when sent off at 11/4. This actually drop back in distance for Boys, so you don’t need to worry about his ability to stay on, but you do have to wonder whether he gets picked off by a rapidly-developing closer on the wire. If he gets a clean trip, he’ll definitely be tough to beat but there are some serious variables in this race- he is pretty much guaranteed to go off at short odds. If this race was being run at Aqueduct, you’d have to say the fact that Dominguez is aboard would make have an emphatic lock, but we’ll see how he takes to the Gulfstream surface.

Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno) ran second to the wildly-talented To Honor And Serve (Bernardini) in the Remsen and the Nashua at Aqueduct and his connections will be eyeing this one up as a serious coup. He could wind up being that later-pace type that gets up towards the wire. He really had no chance with To Honor and Serve in both of his emphatic Grade 2 scores. Keep in mind that it took three cracks for this colt to break his maiden and it required a stretch out to 1m70y. He looks better at over a mile and he might be looking for a bit more distance. Regardless, hitting the board here sets him up nicely to book his ticket in one of the 1m1f contests in March.

Gourmet Dinner (Trippi) could be a contender for this one as we await final declarations and he’ll be looking to make a real improvement after a disappointing fourth in the Cashcall Futurity. The step up to Grade 1 may have come a bit quickly for the son of Trippi as he had just come off of a score in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot. One thing that definitely needs to be said is that this contender knows how to find the wire, having scored in four of his six lifetime starts- only one of which was a MSW. He toppled Mucho Macho Man when he graduated and it will be an interesting rematch.

There are still question marks over whether we’ll get an appearance here from Sweet Ducky (Pulpit). Originally campaigned at Monmouth, he made a real splash the first time he stepped up to the mile distance, capturing a pair of ungraded scores over talented counterpart Curlinello (Smart Strike). Sweet Ducky is a real wildcard, but he shares a lineage and similar running style to last year’s Derby runner-up Ice Box (Pulpit) and you would have to admit that he really did more to win the race than Super Saver (Maria’s Mon) did. He looks very mature for his age and could be set to make a real statement here if he runs, he will likely go off at a quality price as well. 

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