By Jim Freer
The nation’s racing fans will be focusing on Gulfstream Park this afternoon as it runs the $350,000 Holy Bull (Grade 2) and four other stakes races for 3-year-olds.
The Holy Bull is 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen, unbeaten in three starts, is the likely heavy favorite in the six-horse field. Junior Alvarado will ride Mohaymen for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
Note: The photo on the home page shows Mohaymen winning the 1 1/8 mile Remsen (Grade 2) last Nov. 28 at Aqueduct.
The biggest threat to Mohaymen could be Greenpoint Crusader, winner of the one-mile Champagne (Grade 1) at Belmont Park last Oct. 3. John Velazquez will ride Greenpoint Crusader for trainer Dominick Schettino.
Past performances indicate that Mohaymen and longshot Perfect Saint (Corey Lanerie/Dale Romans) will contest the early lead.
Conquest Big E (Mike Smith/Mark Casse) and Fellowship (Jose Caraballo/Stan Gold) are late runners with good potential to hit the exacta. Longshot Frontier Ranger (Edgard Zayas/Ron Pellegrini) rounds out the field.
Several of the top 3-year-olds stabled in South Florida are not running in the Holy Bull, and are expected to wait until next month to run in Kentucky Derby preps at Gulfstream or at other tracks.
Zulu, trained by Todd Pletcher, and Brody’s Cause, trained by Romans, are among notable absentees.
One note of interest is that the Holy Bull is the only race on Saturday’s 12-race card in which Pletcher does not have an entrant.
The Holy Bull is a prep race in qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) that will be on May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
The Holy Bull winner will receive ten points. The second through fourth place finishers will receive four, two and one points respectively.
The Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) at Gulfstream on Feb. 27 will have 50 qualifying points for the winner, and the Florida Derby (Grade 1) at Gulfstream on April 2 will have 100 qualifying points for the winner.
The Holy Bull is today’s 11th race with a scheduled post of 5:05 p.m.
First post time is 12:05 p.m. for the 12-race card with seven races on turf. Conditions are fast and firm, and the forecast has a zero percent chance of rain.
Because of rain, Gulfstream on Thursday and on Friday was forced to move all of its scheduled-for-turf races to the dirt track.
Today’s Gulfstream card has a pair of seven-furlong dirt stakes.
The $200,000 Forward Gal (Grade 2) is for fillies and the $150,000 Swale (Grade 2) is for males.
Gulfstream also has two turf stakes, both at one mile on turf with $100,000 purses.
The Sweetest Chant (Grade 3) is for fillies, and the ungraded Kitten’s Joy is for males.
* Tampa Bay Downs has ten races today, with first post of 12:15 p.m.
The dirt track is listed as fast and the turf course is listed as good.
The feature tenth race (scheduled post of 4:55 p.m.) is the third race in the four-leg male division of the Tampa Turf Test starter handicap series. It is 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $16,000 or less in 2015 or in 2016.
Saturday Preview: Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park; Turf Test Series Resumes at Tampa Bay