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Holy Bull Stakes Preview

The Holy Bull Stakes (G2) is the featured event on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The $350,000 event has drawn a field of 10 three-year-olds, and the top-four finishers receive qualifying points (10-4-2-1) toward the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1).

The 1 116-mile Holy Bull is headlined by even-money favorite Maximus Mischief (#8), ridden by Jose Ortiz for the first time. He’s three-for-three after winning his stakes debut on December 1 at Aqueduct in the Remsen (G2), where he posted a 106 BRIS Speed figure. He’s been working beautifully in the mornings in January at Gulfstream with some impressive work tab times.

However, Maximus Mischief will have to overcome a projected fast pace to hold off the challengers. It won’t be easy breaking from the No. 8 post, as outside post positions are often a disadvantage going this distance on the Gulfstream Park main track since they curve left into the clubhouse turn immediately after the start. Two of Maximus Mischief’s primary pace rivals are drawn directly outside of him in the widest posts, yet both of those runners are longshots.

Mihos (#6) (5-2) with jockey John Velazquez is a main rival in this race, and he’s trained by a favorite trainer in Jimmy Jerkens. Mihos is two-for-three after an impressive off the pace closing neck win in the January 5 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream, where he posted a 100 BRIS Speed rating. His versatile running style and ability to finish under a tough stretch run, proven when he was five wide on the turn, says something about the horse’s heart. Velazquez would be wise to get closer to the lead with a good break against this group.

Federal Case (#2) (6-1) is a Todd Pletcher-trained colt who is two-for-two making his stakes debut. He’ll need to show significant improvement but has the speed to rate behind horses, and he’s bred to go longer.

Epic Dreamer (#3) (15-1) is the longshot of most interest despite his disappointing performance in the Springboard Mile. He’s still dangerous with his speed and an inside draw in this race. Epic Dreamer is the son of 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. He’s been tested in races and is training well for a bounce back and better performance in the Holy Bull.

Garter and Tie (#1) (12-1) breaks from the rail and will be the local fan favorite. The Florida-bred has made all seven of his starts at Gulfstream, and his stalking will have him chasing Mihos, who he finished 2 12 lengths behind in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes.

The rest of the Holy Bull field is Everfast (#4) (30-1), Harvey Wallbanger (#5) (15-1), Come on Gerry (#7) (20-1), Gladiator King (#9) (30-1) and Going for Gold (#10) (30-1).

The Holy Bull has produced some impressive winners, and over the past quarter century we’ve seen Holy Bull winners Go for Gin (1994) and Barbaro (2006) win the same year’s Kentucky Derby. Last year’s Holy Bull winner, Audible, ran third in the Kentucky Derby.

The Holy Bull is Race 11 at Gulfstream on Saturday, February 2, and FOX sports (FS2) will carry the TV coverage on their ‘At the Races’ broadcast. Post time is 5:13 (ET) and is preceded by the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G3) and $150,000 Forward Gal (G3).

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