After raising the expectations of trainer Dale Romans in his three-start fall campaign, Dewey Square will have the opportunity to prove himself Saturday in the Grade 3, $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/16-mile contest has attracted a 10-horse field exceptionally deep in achievement and potential, led by undefeated Shanghai Bobby, the 2012 Eclipse Award-winning juvenile, and supported by Grade 2 victor Bern Identity and multiple stakes winner Itsmyluckyday.
"I don't remember all the Holy Bulls, but it's a tough race," Romans said. "But it's time to get him started and see where he fits with the best."
After breaking his maiden at Hoosier Park by nearly 12 lengths in September and capturing an entry-level allowance at Churchill Downs by four lengths a month later, Dewey Square stepped up to Grade 2 company to finish third in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill on November 24 after racing wide.
"He ran a good race. He's still a little bit green," Romans said. "I think he's better now than he was then. He's gotten a little more confidence, and he's doing good."
The dark bay son of Bernardini has trained well at Gulfstream Park and prepared for his start in the Holy Bull with a bullet five-furlong workout in :59 last Sunday.
"I think he's developed mentally more than anything," Romans said of Dewey Square's development since his last start. "He seems to have more confidence out there than he did back then."
Corey Lanerie, who has the return mount aboard Dewey Square, will have options depending on how the Holy Bull unfolds.
"I think you can do anything you want him to do," said Romans, who was honored with the Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer in 2012.
One of those Dewey Square will have to face on Saturday is Tulira Castle, who will be making his stakes bow in the Holy Bull. Trainer James DiVito pronounced the dark bay son of War Pass ready for the step up in class.
"I think he's coming around at the right time. He's bigger and he's more mature. We haven't over-raced him and I think his development is good right now," DiVito said.
Tulira Castle exits an impressive 2 1/4-length victory under Javier Castellano in a one-turn, entry-level allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on December 8. Previously, the sophomore raced on Polytrack at Arlington Park and Keeneland, producing a pair of seconds and a maiden score.
DiVito understands that Tulira Castle faces a huge task in the Holy Bull, but he has confidence that his Kentucky-bred colt won't back down from the challenge.
"He's a very, very aggressive horse. When he's in company or in a race, he's a horse that thrives on competition," DiVito explained. "It's all about heart, just like with any athlete."
Tulira Castle will make his first start around two turns in the Holy Bull.
"He seems to handle his works good and he handles the turns good," DiVito noted. "Castellano seems to think he'll handle two turns good. His breeding said he should."