Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
The Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, January 23rd presents the best field of any Kentucky Derby prep run this year. Four of the nine entries have run in Grade I stakes prior to the Holy Bull Stakes. Homeboykris won the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont in October while Aikenite, Piscetelli, and William's Kitten all ran in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile in November. Of the other five horses in the field, only Winslow Homer hasn't run in stakes company prior to the Holy Bull Stakes.
The Holy Bull Stakes will be run at a distance of one mile around one turn. Rick Dutrow trains Grade I winnerHomeboykris and has admitted that he likes one turn for this distance. His brother Tony Dutrow sends Winslow Homer into this race of a 12 1/2 length allowance win at Philadelphia Park. Tony Dutrow had the first and third place finishers in the Spectacular Bid Stakes two weeks ago at Gulfstream Park. Both Dutrow brothers send their horses ready of layoffs, so I'm looking for big efforts from both Homeboykris and Winslow Homer.
Aikenite figures to be closing in this race, but there doesn't look like there will be a pace to run at. It's hard to say where Piscetelli will run, as he has run from far back in the past but led for nearly six furlongs in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile. Either way, it doesn't look like the Holy Bull Stakes sets up well for him. William's Kitten is coming back of a nearly two month layoff, and trainer Michael maker admits the one-turn mile is meant to be a starting point for future races.
Thank U Philippe come into the Holy Bull Stakes looking to improve off a second place finish to Eskendereya in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Janaury 7th. Even though he's won only once in eight career starts, he has five second place finishes running against classy competition. His trainer, Marty Wolfson, is one of the current meet leaders. I'm looking for Thank U Phillipe to hit the board in the Holy Bull Stakes.
Litigation Risk will most likely end up on the lead in the Holy Bull Stakes. His sire, Closing Argument, won the Holy Bull Stakes in 2005 when it was run at 1 and 1/8 miles before finishing third in the Bluegrass Stakes and 2ndin the Kentucky Derby to Giacomo. While Closing Argument lived up to his name and ran late, Litigation Risk won his only race while in a maiden special weight contest at Belmont Park on October 25th in which he led wire to wire. I'm willing to toss the fourth place effort in the Delta Jackpot Stakes because it was Litigation Risk's first try around two turns and it was run on a six furlong oval.
Finally, the most accomplished local runner in the Holy Bull Stakes is Jackson Bend, who swept the Florida Stallion series at Calder Race Course as a two year old. Jackson bend enters off a three month layoff and draws the outside post while facing tougher competition. Jackson Bend might get a wide trip, so I think the best he does is run third in this race.
The Holy Bull Stakes:
1. Thank U Phillipe 8/1
2. Homeboykris 5/1
2. Litigation Risk 12/1
4. Piscitelli 6/1
5. William's Kitten 8/1
6. Winslow Homer 6/1
7. Wild Lime 20/1
8. Aikenite 4/1
9. Jackson Bend 5/2
The Play: $1 Trifecta 6/1,2,3/1-5,7-9 = $21 Bet