Photo: Jim Lisa Photos
Robert LaPenta’s Jackson Bend, William Schettine’s
Piscitelli and Dogwood Stable’s Aikenite are three of the high-profile
3-year-olds in a field of nine entered to make their highly-anticipated season
debuts in Saturday’s $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
The one-turn mile test is almost certain to identify candidates for the Florida
Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) in the months ahead.
Jockey Jeremy Rose will ride Jackson Bend for the first
time as he makes his first start for LaPenta and trainer Nick Zito. A majority
interest in the chestnut colt was purchased privately after he drew off to a
very impressive 2 ¾ lengths victory in the $400,000 In Reality Division finale
of the Florida Stallion Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Calder Race Course on Oct.
17 for owner-breeder Jacks or Better Farm and trainer Stanley Gold.
A Florida-bred chestnut son of freshman stallion Hear No
Evil, Jackson Bend won his last five starts at Calder after a runner-up debut
there on May 9 and overcame a very poor beginning when stumbling badly leaving
the gate at the start of the In Reality with Thank U Philippe second and Bim
While Jackson Bend established his reputation in restricted
races at Calder, Piscitelli and Aikenite were last seen on the larger stage at
Santa Anita finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the $ 2 million
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Nov. 7. They both make their first starts since
Desormeaux back aboard the Piscitelli and John R. Velazquez getting the call on
Piscitelli went into the Breeders’ Cup a 50-to-1 longshot
and surprised when going to the front early in the race after closing from last
of 14 and finishing fifth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in his
previous appearance. A son of Victory Gallop, Piscitelli came again when headed
in mid-stretch and fought on gamely to fourth, beaten only three-quarters of a
length for it all.
While Piscitelli was up front setting pace in the Juvenile,
Aikenite was in tight quarters behind him, finishing fifth, beaten 2 ½ lengths
by the winner. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Aikenite is a son of Yes It’s True
that won his debut at Saratoga, finished third in the Hopeful (G1) at the Spa
and second in the Breeders’ Futurity, beaten a half-length by Noble’s Promise
prior to the Breeders’ Cup.
Also likely to attract support in the highly-accomplished
field assembled for the Holy Bull is Louis Lazzinarro and partners’ Homeboykris
with Edgar Prado aboard for trainer Rick Dutrow. The son of Roman Ruler was a
private purchase after two starts at Calder and won the Champagne Stakes (G1)
in October. In one start since, he finished fifth in the Remsen Stakes (G2)
behind Buddy’s Saint.
Completing the field for the Holy Bull are Kramer Stables
and William Rosenfeld’s Thank U Philippe, Eddie Castro; Klaravich Stables and
William Lawrence’s Litigation Risk, Alan Garcia; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s
William’s Kitten, Julien Leparoux; Fox Hill Farm’s Winslow Homer, Ramon
Dominguez; and Vinery Stables’ Wild Lime, Jose Lezcano.