Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Going into The Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park, we all knew it was loaded with talent and the best prep on paper to date. Well, it did not disappoint as the winner, Cairo Prince, put on a powerful performance in demolishing this field. As we take a look back at the race now, some of the perceived talent just did not pan out for some reason or another. I am not taking anything away from the winner, he was definitely impressive. I just thought a few horses I was very high on did not show their best that day. It is very possible I was just flat wrong in assessing a few of the contenders and gave them more credit than they deserved. Regardless, here is my take on this race moving forward…
Cairo Prince – Going into this race I knew he could win, but I wasn’t completely sold either. Boy, did he prove me wrong. He annihilated this field. He was 5-6 wide going into the first turn, pressed a quick pace while wide the whole backstretch, and then took over at the quarter pole and crushed the field. It was an impressive performance to say the least. He is obviously super talented and will be a major contender wherever he ends up next.
Wicked Strong – This guy was my top selection in here. I really loved him going into this race and I haven’t a clue what to make of him now. He was 4-5 wide on the first turn, 3-4 wide on the backstretch in what I thought was a nice spot stalking considering the pace, and then he showed absolutely nothing without an excuse. He just dropped right out of it. No idea what to make of him moving forward. Wherever he ends up next I would demand a price if you even want to forgive him. He needs to show more if he wants to continue on the Derby Trail.
Conquest Titan – I am not sure of what to make of the runner up moving forward. I do believe he definitely needs pace to close into. He dropped to the rail at the back of the pack in this race, swung wide into the lane turning for home, but he never threatened the winner. It will be interesting to see how he progresses from this race and as the distances increase. Maybe more ground will help his late running style.
Intense Holiday – I thought this Pletcher trainee ran very well to capture third in here. He broke widest of all and was 7-8 wide into the first turn, raced at the back of the pack, and still got up for third. He got an education this race for sure. He took some dirt in his face and raced in traffic while going between horses. Going forward I am not too high on him, but he’s not that bad either. He is one to keep an eye on I suppose.
Mr Speaker – It will be interesting to see if he stays on the Derby Trail, or becomes strictly a turf horse. He was 4 wide going into the first turn, pressed a quick pace in a perfect spot, and then faded and had nothing late. It wasn’t a terrible first try on the main track against a pretty nice field. Was it the pace that hurt him or did he just not like the dirt? If he showed up in another Derby prep I’d give him a look possibly.
Almost Famous – This colt dueled up front with Coup De Grace (who is officially off the Derby Trail) while pressing quick fractions. He may need an easy lead to show his best. If he doesn’t learn to rate I don’t think he will do much damage moving forward. He did hold on to fill out the Super, which I guess is okay. But moving forward I do not think I will be backing him.
Financial Mogul – He had a stalking trip from the rail behind that quick pace then made a middle move and flattened out. I was not impressed.
As we rumble along the Derby Trail towards the first Saturday in May, I think there are a few key horses we need to keep an eye on moving forward. First is the obvious, Cairo Prince. This was a very nice win for him and he is obviously talented. He is on the short list of legit Derby contenders right now in my eyes. With that said, I am not completely sold on him yet and I am not exactly sure why. I look forward to seeing how he progresses coming out of this race. He may indeed be the real deal. Conquest Titan and Intense Holiday are a couple of horses that we should keep on the back burner and see how they improve going forward. I am not that high on either, but I don’t want to count them out just yet. I have not heard yet what the plans are for Mr Speaker. If he were to get another shot on the Derby Trail, I might give him another look it is quite possible he could improve. And lastly, maybe I am a bitter bettor because I had him on top and cannot believe he ran so poorly, but I have a feeling Wicked Strong will show a better account of himself in his next start.