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The Kentucky Derby Post

Holy Bull, that was Impressive

Cairo Prince HB 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire


There’s a lot to talk about after the 2014 Holy Bull. There’s always just one true winner but the other story lines behind entries that scored some points versus those that did not still remain. While I would love to dive into the respectable finish of Conquest Titan and Intense Holiday along with the questions surrounding Wicked Strong and Coup De Grace, I can’t resist the opportunity to talk more about Cairo Prince.


With a win today and 10 points added to the 4 that he earned when he finished a nose behind Honor Code in the G2 Remsen Stakes, Cairo Prince is now tied for the points lead with 14. So, going into February and final 3 months of the Derby Prep season this contender has earned the attention I’m about to give him.


Let’s begin with what everyone is talking about today; his connections. The most fascinating thing about Cairo Prince is that his Dam is Holy Bubbette, by none other than the champion colt we honor every year at this time; Holy Bull. As for his Sire, Cairo Prince is by Pioneerof the Nile, your 2009 Kentucky Derby runner up and four time graded stakes winner at a distance of no less than 1 1/16.


Bred for distance, although, Holy Bubbette enjoyed her most success in races at 7 or 6 furlongs, I have a hard time not coming to this conclusion. To back that up just look at what Cairo Prince has done in three races at a mile or more.


  • Grade 2 Nashua Stakes       1st – 2 1/2         1 Mile            1:37.59
  • Grade 2 Remsen Stakes      2nd - Nose         1 1/8             1:52.92
  • Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes     1st – 5 3/4          1 1/16            1:42.16


While Holy Bubbette may contribute to his speed when urged to make a move he has also displayed that he can keep his next gear in check and carry it the distance. He may not have been able to hold it in the Remsen but from what I saw today he’s going to be tough to get by when he gets the lead late in the race.



How about you, are you also convinced that he’ll be ready for the Kentucky Derby distance?


Sticking with connections, another thing I like about this Kentucky Derby contender is that since his first start and win Luis Saez has been the only jockey in the irons. It is not always a key to success as Johnny V never rode Animal Kingdom prior to the Kentucky Derby. The same was true in 2009 when Calvin Borel brilliantly led long shot Mine that Bird to an unexpected win. However, I like the connection here and there’s no way Saez wants off this horse. Considering his results thus far I’d say his trainer isn’t planning on replacing him either.


Speaking of Kiaran McLaughlin, here’s a trainer that is ready for the next step in his career.  A native of Lexington, KY McLaughlin has enjoyed a remarkable career that includes a 2006 Belmont Stakes win with Jazil and a Breeders’ Cup Classic win later that year with Invasor. His best Kentucky Derby finish came when another Holy Bull winner, Closing Argument, was the runner up to Giacomo in 2005 at odds of 71-1.


The reason I’m breaking these connections down is because I like them. There’s no doubt that I believe McLaughlin will one day win the Kentucky Derby but will Cairo Prince be the horse that gets him there?


After the Holy Bull we’re still 98 days out from the first Saturday in May so it’s still too early to tell. Not only does Cairo Prince have to remain healthy the question on when and where he reaches his peak is something that must be answered. For me, he looks great at this stage and I haven’t seen anything that makes me think he's already reached his potential.  


But, for a horse to prep well and be ready to go on the first Saturday in May is only half the battle. The other half may be the toughest; your effort needs to be better than the rest of the field. Right now it’s also too early for me to tell what other contenders may outmatch his potential so that will have to wait or be discovered over the coming weeks.


However, that’s looking ahead so what about right now? I'm glad you asked because Cairo Prince is my 2014 Kentucky Derby top contender. I loved everything I saw from him today in the Holy Bull. His form probably impressed me the most. He knew when it was time to formulate his move but how easy he made it look before drawing away was special. Capping it off was a final time that makes me wonder if a Holy Bull stakes record time could have been broken with a better challenge from the field. The record time is 1:41.73, less than 0.5 seconds better than what Cairo Prince clocked. I like a confident horse when I see one and that is the best way for me to describe what I saw from him today.


Finally, this surely can regress but I was also encouraged with his training leading up to the Holy Bull. A key to winning the Kentucky Derby, or any Triple Crown race, is maintaining your form. If Cairo Prince can continue to turn in works like his previous three it will be a very good sign that he’s ready for the next challenge.


All at Palm Meadows Training Center        

  • 1/19/2014     Dirt     4F      48.40 
  • 1/12/2014     Dirt     5F      59.90 
  • 1/5/2014       Dirt     5F      59.70


According to McLaughlin next up will be the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on February 22. This will be the second race of the Championship Series when points jump to 50-20-10-5. So, until then expect Cairo Prince to remain near the top of the points leader board.


The Holy Bull and the Kentucky Derby


Dating back to 1994 when Go For Gin kicked off his 3-yr-old racing season with a win in what is now called the Holy Bull stakes, two other horses made a stop here along the trail before they won the roses. Funny Cide, who finished 5th in 2003, followed by Barbaro who won in 2006.



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Older Comments about Holy Bull, that was Impressive...

Good point, john.repasky. Dialed In never materialized, nor did Itsmyluckyday, after setting a track record last year. Maybe the Holy Bull is not a significant factor, since the distance was changed?
dialed in ran a romp in holy bull stakes two yrs ago . I think cairo prince is a better horse than dialed in was but I have a wait and see attitude.
Easy Goer, in my mind the second coming as I have that official winner's circle shot from all there Triple races that yaer.
As impressive as it was, Top Billing (Shug) blew away Surfing USA (Pletcher) after he was left at the gate.
Nice moves by Titan,just a little late!
Disapointed and I started to know it in the Derby or even whe he could not move up in the Juvenile where Pincay knew what part of the track to stay in and got him languishing in the slop
Numbers as we all know are not comparable season to season. I have a tip sheet from the 9th of June 1973 at Belmont and Secreariat was NOT EVEN THE BEST BET OF THE DAY according to them and Forego ran a huge one about an our before his triumph.
Funny my official chart in the 74 American Racing Manual states Up by 20 after 10f, 28 in the stretch and out in 31 lengths. Did say "under a hand ride in a tremendous performance" however and Beyer says that HIS figures had NEVER even been approached.
'IF' Shared Belief stays on "the trail" ( sorry Jerry) they will all be running for second money. The horse who can outfinish him has yet to make a believer out of me. How's this for the #'s game Vic - Easy Goer's Belmont Rag # was faster than Secretariat's!
Same token,Monarchos ran the fastest speed figure Kentucky Derby ever. But much of that was attributed to extensive ground loss on the far turn. As far as Big Red in the Belmont.Although that was an extremely souped up track. He did win by 24 lengths. He was geared down through the stretch
'IF' Shared Belief stays on "the trail" ( sorry Jerry) they will all be running for second money. The horse who can outfinish him has yet to make a believer out of me. How's this for the #'s game Vic - Easy Goer's Belmont Rag # was faster than Secretariat's!
Nobody ever said he was not solid or talented. He is more than that. He is an excellent racehorse. My point is that sooner or later,you keep grinding the screws on these horses. They will have nothing left to give you. Do you know how many people were touting IMLD as the next Super Horse last year. Those 2 races wer his downfall.One has nothing to do with the other,You said that Cairo made Honor Code that much more appealing. Let me ask you then. In the Remsen,Wicked Strong was also in that photo.So does his poor performance yesterday destroy Honor Codes reputation.Using your logic,he was right there with him,yesterday he showed he is not much horse. Every horse is an individual,never compare how they raced against each other. You do not know if both were the same physically and what trip they had. Many factors.Although Cairo ran huge yesterday,the only reason he was there at the end of the Remsen.They walked around the track.As far as him getting the longer distances.I may be wrong,if i am i will be paying for it by ripping my tickets in the Classsics.But i will use a line about Cairo in the Classic distances.Aline that the great Woody Stephens used about then "SUPERHORSE" , Houston. The only way he gets 1 1/4 miles ,is if you put him in a Taxi Cab at the start.
I feel the opposite. If anything Cairo Prince's win just made Honor Code even more appealing to me. Cairo is a solid horse and very talented. I don't think any other horse would have been able to beat him in the Remsen other then Honor Code. And I really believe HC will do his best running as a deep closer and he still beat CP when he didn't run his usual race.
Gelded i also have been saying the same thng. Last year IMLD ran 2 eye popping speed figures. No need to crank them up this early. Just like Cairo,he was working bullets for this race. Any speed figure you will see will be eye popping for him. At this rate,winning the Derby is not the question.Will he be healthy enough to enter the gate. He has 2 more races before the serby. At this rate,he might be a done horse by then.
Itsmyluckyday set the track record (at the time) in the Holy Bull last year but it didn't translate into Derby success. It's hard to take an 8.5 fur race in January with the race configured like it is (short run to the first turn) and read much into the time. This is Pioneer of the Nile's first 3 year old crop so the jury's out on that side and Holy Bull as a damsire hasn’t been known to impart a ton of stamina. IMO keep your eyes wide open and your emotions free and clear.
Now the sheets players and the Thorograph fellows make alterations in the number based upon what happened to them in the contest: trouble, missed the break etc
Beyer: like reading the last chapter of a novel without a single reference to the plot, characters, interactions, trouble or ANYTHING between start to finish.
slewcrew77781, The Beyer for Cairo Prince was 95.
final time evolves with so many variables that it, by himselft, means ZIP
When you mention that the time was fast, I find it curious that the best time this year over this oval, is by a horse that won an Optional Claimer, named Bradester on 1/17. Cairo Prince looked beside himself, but, the fact that Bradester has run quicker, strikes me as curious.

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer 

Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, KY. And, it was there that my attraction to the sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about and a pleasure to cover. It all begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost



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