The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull is one of three Kentucky Derby (G1) points races on Saturday along with the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct and the Robert B. Lewis (G3) at Santa Anita. Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 for the top four finishers in all three are up for grabs.
Favored in the Kentucky Jockey Club off a third-place effort in the Champagne (G1) behind Firenze Fire and eventual champion Good Magic, Enticed just edge the Romans-trained Tiz Mischief by a neck after a prolonged stretch drive.
"He was in a little tight all the way and he showed a lot of guts and got a lot of education out of the race, being in tight and taking some dirt," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "It was a very good race, an excellent performance and we hope we can duplicate that Saturday."
Tiz Mischief is a for-sure starter for Romans as is longshot Bandito, but only one of the Albaugh Stable-owned duo of Free Drop Billy and Hollywood Star will race. The other is expected to be re-routed to next week's Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
"He's doing great. He's moved forward. I think he's going to be a force to be reckoned with this year," said Romans of Tiz Mischief. "He's been training lights out."
Free Drop Billy placed in the Sanford (G3) and Hopeful (G1) before taking the Breeders' Futurity (G1) by four lengths, but was a badly beaten ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar. Hollywood Star fared better, finishing sixth after previously placing in the Saratoga Special (G2) and Iroquois (G3).
"Hollywood ran a nice race. I have no excuse for Free Drop Billy. I've quit trying to make one. He ran bad. Something wasn't right that day. Horses that he beat beat him. He just didn't run a jump, the only time in his life. He's back training super. We'll just draw a line through it," Romans said.
Bandito, last of 10 in the Remsen (G2) in early December, is expected to show early foot. Some of the other speed in the field will have to overcome the widest draws, including the multiple stakes-placed Aequor and the Mark Casse-trained Mississippi, a sharp second to Noble Indy in a January 11 allowance over the Holy Bull distance
Trainer Todd Pletcher has two interesting contenders in Audible, winner of an off-the-turf allowance at Aqueduct by nearly 10 lengths last out, and Pony Up, who ran second in his debut on dirt and has since placed in a pair of stakes on the grass for Calumet Farm, which also owns Bandito.
The Holy Bull and all other Derby preps Saturday can be watched and wagered on at TwinSpires.com.