The Holy Bull

Before I dig into this preview, it’s only right that I pay homage to the horse that this race is named after in one of my favorite (and I have many) racing calls of all time. The passion and energy brought to the table by Tom Durkin in this 1994 Travers Stakes will be remembered by racing fans forever. Listening to him scream “As game as a racehorse can be,” not only has me thinking that Durkin may have went into cardiac arrest post-race, but also has me dreaming of the warm summer days at the track that are so close, yet so far. Fellow blogger Scors does some unbelievable Joe Buck reenactments, so we’ll have to see if we can have him give this one a try. 

Now, let’s get to it. The Grade II Holy Bull Stakes will be run this Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The 1 1/16 mile race is one of many preps leading up to the first Saturday in May, otherwise known as the Kentucky Derby. For a quick breakdown, the top 20 point earners in these prep races will get a spot in the first of the three Triple Crown races at Churchill Downs on May 2nd. The winner of this race receives ten points, with second place getting four, third taking two, and fourth place being worth one. 

3-5 morning line favorite Tiz the Law has taken most of the headlines leading up to this race, and rightfully so. Trained by Barclay Tagg, this son of Constitution will be coming off the first loss of his career at Churchill Downs on November 30th. He broke his maiden this summer at Saratoga, followed by an impressive victory in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont Park. Both races were won by about four lengths and were followed by a lot of noise in the racing world about whether or not this horse was for real. What makes this horse even more interesting is that he is owned by Saratoga-based Jack Knowlton and Sackatoga Stables.

In 2003, they were passengers on the dream train led by Funny Cide, who they owned, winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In Tiz the Law’s recent defeat, he had gate issues, which is a common problem for younger horses. I think we’ll see that improve this Saturday, as Tagg has been quoted saying that they have given him a lot of work on getting used to it. Tiz the Law also had a bullet work on Sunday, working four-furlongs in 48 seconds. Jockey Manny Franco will be aboard.

The horse that interests me the most in this race is Chad Brown trained Toledo, who comes in at 7/2 on the morning line. Irad Ortiz Jr., who has had plenty of success at Gulfstream Park, will retain the mount. His speed figures have been steadily improving, with his most recent 97 Beyer being higher than anything obtained by Tiz the Law. Toledo ran second last time out to Ete Indien, who will be in post four of this Holy Bull, trained by Patrick Biancone. However, you can find a number of excuses for his last effort, specifically the fact that he raced wide on the track throughout the race. I think his post in the 1 slot on Saturday should set him up for a dream trip sitting off Tiz the Law, with an exciting finish to the wire.

Personally, I see this as a two horse race as none of the longshots truly excite me in this short field. I guess I could understand if some money comes in on Relentless Dancer, but my money usually only backs Mike Maker trained horses going long on turf. This horse ran a game dead-heat vs. Silver State, who ran a closing second in the Lecomte Stakes, but I think distance is a concern here as the colt seems to be better suited going seven furlongs. 

Good luck to all bettors!