The 31st running of this 1st Leg of the Gulfstream Park Series once again brings together a good group of 3-yr-old colts. This stop on the Kentucky Derby Trail offers the top four finishers the opportunity to collect points … to be exact, 10-4-2-1. Looking back through the list of winners of this race, you will find some celebrated champions that went on to stellar careers in racing and in the breeding shed. Who could forget Go for Gin, Hal’s Hope, Offlee Wild, Barbaro, Itsmyluckyday, Cairo Prince, Audible, and Tiz the Law? Last year, we watched in awe, as Shug McGaughey’s Greatest Honour triumphed over a well-drawn field. As the prep for the Fountain of Youth (G2), and subsequently, the Florida Derby (G1), this contest is sure to live up to its namesake … Holy Bull … a runner of such immeasurable talent.
Now, let’s find out about this field…
#1 Galt (Jky: J. Alvarado/Trn: B. Mott):
HOF trainer Bill Mott has a pair of colts running in KYD148 races on Saturday. The other one is up at Aqueduct in the Grade 3 Withers S. They are half brothers ... same sire … Medaglia d’Oro. This one was a high price back at the Keeneland November Sale in 2019--$400k. In 3 races (2 dirt, 1 turf), the 3-yr-old broke his maiden once he came from NYRA tracks down to Gulfstream. What was most impressive … he broke from the 1-post then, and rolled late with a charge that was full of energy—winning by 3. Having schooled alongside his barn-mate that is drawn in @ “The Big A,” he could be a player. Junior Alvarado gets the weight relief too at 118.
#2 Mo Donegal (Jky: I. Ortiz/Trn: T. Pletcher):
It is a good bet that this Todd Pletcher colt will be the “favorite” coming into “The Bull.” Some were casting shade on his last performance in the G2 Remsen up at Aqueduct … but to be more specific, it was really aimed at his jockey, Irad Ortiz. Bumping late in the game with Chad Brown’s Zandon, it was a fight to the finish. In the end, Ortiz got suspended (for some reckless riding on several mounts), and though owner Jeff Drown protested, Pletcher’s runner remained on top. I am going to be against the son of Uncle Mo, not because he will be an underlay, but rather because I do not particularly like runners that have never tried to MT @GP. These connections are hard to go against …
#3 Eloquist (Jky: F. Pennington/Trn: R. Reid):
Jockey Frankie Pennington does not make it to S. Florida too often, I would imagine, but when you get the call to go ride … you go where the mount does. Frankly, it is going to be a tough trip, and let’s face it … this son of Nyquist is going to have to turn in a career best. Maybe he has it in him, and the Reid Barn certainly hopes that is the case. After a 5th place finish in the Remsen (G2), 14-lengths back, it is hard to see it …
#4 Simplification (Jky: J. Castellano/Trn: A. Sano):
The “prep” for this Grade 3 was the Mucho Macho Man 150k back on New Year’s Day. Antonio Sano’s colt by Not This Time did all of his work out on the frontend, and won convincingly … eye test, check … early foot, check … Now, the waters will get deeper, but you have to think that he is a threat with Javier Castellano in the irons. That speed fig he posted in that last one was eye-catching, and I like the choice to workout going 6F (2x in-a-row) … interesting choice by Sano. One to note …
#5 Cajun’s Magic (Jky: J. Rios/Trn: M. Yates):
A Gulfstream Park specialist … if that is possible at 2-yr-old … this gelding by Cajun Breeze ran a handful of times starting in May through September. The Yates Barn then laid him off, and is expecting this 3-yr-old to be ready for action. I really have to think that despite performing well in several “Non-G” contests at this track, that he just is not going to be ready. Maybe start with a MSW Co. race … first?
#6 Tiz the Bomb (Jky: B. Hernandez/Trn: K. McPeek):
Walking through one of the barns at the Breeders Cup, this runner, a colt by Hit It a Bomb, was impressive in his manner. Owned by the controversial Phoenix Thoroughbreds, but trained by a person of impeccable character like Kenny McPeek, one has to think that his talent in ’22 is going to bear out. Even though he has run mainly on the turf (this one has the distinction of winning the money in the BC Juv. Turf, but losing the race), the switch to dirt is not outlandish whatsoever. The Fair Grounds ace, Brian Hernandez, comes to town to ride, and he has handled this one ably in 5 career races. Amazing to think that this colt already has $586k+ to his name. If he takes to the dirt … he wins.
#7 Spin Wheel (Jky: J. Leparoux/Trn: R. Arnold):
Trainer Rusty Arnold is a conditioner that deserves deep respect. It would be amazing to see him succeed … not only on the Derby Trail, but in Triple Crown races. He pairs with Julien Leparoux, one of the most underrated riders in North America over the past decade. The last time we saw this colt by Hard Spun, was back at Churchill in late November, just before Closing Day. If Arnold has him tuned up, and he might … then this one could be an interesting one to include in the exotics. I am not sure he can win this race, but I would expect him to be ready to play.
#8 White Abarrio (Jky: T. Gafflione/Trn: S. Joseph):
Here is another layoff horse that has not been seen since ’21. Talk about an “X-Factor,” here is one. Saffie Joseph is winning at Gulfstream with Todd Pletcher nipping at his heels. There is no question that he is a talented conditioner, and has a sharp one coming into this race. A colt by Race Day, with Tapit in his background, there is no question that this colt possesses talent. Can he be ready? Well, we have not seen him since the KY Jockey Club (G2) back at Churchill, when he ran 3rd to Smile Happy and Classic Causeway. Works … they look tight (.47 @4F, 28 Jan). The best news is that Tyler Gaffalione takes the mount, and he has the ability to rival any rider in a spot like this.
#9 Giant Game (Jky: L. Saez/Trn: D. Romans):
A colt by Giant’s Causeway would make you think turf … not to Dale Romans. He is going to try and tempt fate once again, and go after that elusive Kentucky Derby. He is hungry for it, and hopes to at the very least, get back to the “First Saturday” in May. This runner was last seen at Del Mar running belatedly against Baffert’s Corniche … who blew everyone away. Now, after some solid training, he is going to get the services of Luis Saez. That qualifies as nothing short of a stupendous rider upgrade from Joe Talamo. Saez had a masterful ’21, and even though he was not a finalist for the Eclipse Award for Leading Jockey, it was a stellar year! This could be an upset special, but I just don’t have a ton of confidence in this trainer. Sorry Mr. Romans …
Join us Saturday for all of our Gulfstream Park selections! Should be a great set of races from the Championship Meet! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter … Horseracing_USA !!!