Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®
Holy Bull: From the Trainer's Mouth
If they could talk, we'd get a perspective on the Grade II Holy Bull Stakes straight from the horse's mouth. Trainers say all the time that the horse tells them when they're ready, so we'll settle for the next best thing.
Quotes about the Holy Bull trainers in post position order:
1. Coup de Grace -- Trainer Chad Brown
Jan. 9: “His last race was a nice progression to a one-turn mile. He handled it fine, so now he needs to run two turns. He’ll work again over the weekend coming up, and we’ll continue to keep all our options open with him. Right now, we’re leaning toward staying at home and running him in the Holy Bull. I was real happy with that (work on Jan. 5, four in :49.60 (26/49)). He’s convinced me he needs to run in a stakes race. I don’t know if I’m looking for something very specific out of his next work; I just want to see him continue to thrive down here and show me that he’ll be fine with the stretch-out around two turns. As long as he continues to train the way he has been, the way he’s moving and the way he’s galloping out, every indication is that he should be able to handle two turns.”
Jan. 20: “He worked good (on Jan. 19). It was cold out, and he was a little sharp. Johnny seemed to get along with the horse well, and he said he learned a couple things about him in the morning, and that was really the reason for putting him on. All systems are go for the Holy Bull. It’s going to be a tough race. He’s unproven around two turns, and it’s a real test for him. I think it’s that time of year to try him around two turns and then we can figure out how to campaign him the rest of the year.”
2. Financial Mogul -- Trainer Rick Violette, Jr.
Nov. 3, after the Nashua: "He's a nice horse who wants to go long and get the two turns. Jose Ortiz did a nice job on him. When you have one horse beat and you put your hands down and trust he's going to come forward, that's pretty game. He did everything right. We'll talk about the Remsen. I just got off the phone with Seth Klarman, and he said, 'Do whatever you want to do.' That's going to come up a monster race, but we'll think about it."
3. Best Plan Yet -- Trainer Stanley Gold
Dec. 29: “His pedigree is filled with grass on the dam’s side. The dam has produced a lot of good grass horses, but they’ve all also run on the dirt, like Awesome Belle. We’ll stick with the dirt now, because everyone wants that chance at the Kentucky Derby. It’s a long way off, but the turf is definitely in his future I always thought he’d like two turns, and he won first time around two turns, and then he ran big in the Stallion Stakes, but that’s not Gulfstream....
“This is what happens every year. This is the acid test. Now we run against some of the better horses and see how we fare on a more national scene. This is where you find out how he’ll perform on the bigger stage.”
4. Almost Famous -- Trainer Patrick Byrne
Jan. 19: “I was very happy with (the most recent workout). He went up a little quicker than I liked. He worked on his own from the half-mile pole to the wire and galloped out in 1:02 and three-quarters in 1:17. He’s ready to go Saturday. I just put some blinkers on him, just to keep him focused a little, and it worked.
Jan. 20: “His first race was spectacular, then in his second race, he kind of went to sleep on me. I kind of babied him. It was my fault. He’d been off for seven weeks. He kind of just went around in place. He just didn’t run. It was nothing to do with talent. I wheeled him back in 14 days, put blinkers on him and he galloped (to win).”
5. Our Caravan -- Trainer Michael Dilger
Jan. 16 NOTE: “We got him back here after the race (on Dec. 14), checked him out and made sure he was OK. We had a look at the condition book and saw what our options were and decided for (the) $400,000 (Holy Bull). He’s a course and distance winner so let’s give it a shot and see what happens. He’s a nice horse, and we’ve always liked him. We always knew he was going to be a two-turn horse. There was a lot of speed in the race that day, and it sort of stopped in front of him, but we were expecting him to run well, for sure. Obviously he lacks experience, but by the same token we’ve had him in training for quite a while. He’s not a green horse; he just lacks that race track experience. He’s running against some pretty nice horses that have already proven themselves to be stakes caliber, so those are the two main concerns.”
6. Mr Speaker -- Trainer Shug McGaughey
Jan. 1: “He came out of the (Dania Beach win) really well. I’m going to work him from the pole at Payson on the dirt. I’d like to take Lezcano up there and work him in behind a horse to see how he handles the dirt in his face. If he handles it and breezes well, I’d like to take a shot at the Holy Bull. The timing is good, and we know he can run on the grass. He’s always trained fine on the dirt, so I would think that we’d be okay.”
Jan. 4: “He worked very well (Jan. 3) on the dirt. Next weekend, I plan on putting him behind a horse and let the dirt hit him in the face. Then, I’ll make up my mind (about his next race) from there.”
Jan. 19: “He worked in :49 2/5 and worked great. Pulpit never ran on the turf. Salute never ran on the turf. He’s trained good on the dirt. He handled (kickback) fine (in his previous work). I just wanted to see how he’d handle the dirt, and he handled it fine."
Jan. 20: “I think he’s equipped to make the jump. It’s a matter whether he’ll make the jump from turf to dirt. He’s already done it on the turf. He went from a maiden to a grade 3. We’ll just have to see if he does it on the dirt.”
7. Cairo Prince -- Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin
Jan. 1: “I was a little disappointed, he went too slow (in a :51.90 work). He breezes in company most of the time, but last week he went 47 and 2/5 and was out in a minute. Maybe it was rider error or company error, but we have plenty of time to catch up. We’ll put him with different company next week and probably back it up to Sunday or Monday because he went so slow. He’s fine and we have time to correct it. He usually does work pretty well, but he’s the type that if you don’t put him in company, he’ll go in 53 or 46. So if he goes in company, they usually get it right. It was unfortunate, but it’s no big deal. He’s a sound and happy horse.”
Jan. 5: With jockey Luis Saez up, Cairo Prince breezed five in :59.70 (1/22) in company with 4-year-olds Qeyaas and Elnaawi, each timed in 1:00.40. “It was a great work. We worked back quick for us, from Tuesday to Sunday, to get him on a weekend schedule. He worked behind two nice older horses; they all needed company so it just worked out. He took the dirt real well and split horses, so we’re very happy with the way he worked. We couldn’t be happier. There was nothing right or wrong about last week. Today was beautiful. We wanted him to take dirt at some point because he’s never taken dirt in his races, so it was just perfect. He’s a fit horse. It’s not a big deal if he goes a little bit slow or a little bit fast. We have a couple more works to go before the Holy Bull. It was just a beautiful work. We got it all done today. He’s filled out some and put on a little weight. We don’t need to change anything about him, we just need to keep him the same. He gave Honor Code six pounds last time, so we’re happy. We feel like we have a very nice horse, and we just need to keep him at that level. We don’t need to change anything, we don’t need to improve; we just need to hopefully stay the same.”
Jan. 12: “I wasn’t looking for 59-and-4 again, but he’s just doing great,” and that's what trainer McLaughlin got this date. "He had company, but he hooked into a horse that was in front of him a little bit. It kind of made him work a little faster than we needed, but he’s doing that well. No worries, no negatives; he worked great. We’ll work again next Saturday or Sunday, a half-mile probably on his own now, hopefully in something like 49, When you ask a horse to go a little slower and they end up going fast, that’s a good sign that he’s doing extremely well. He’s happy, and we’re happy.”
Jan. 19: “We couldn’t be happier. It was exactly what we were looking for. He’s ready to go.”
Jan. 20: “He knows he made a mistake, but everyone makes mistakes,” regarding the ride Luis Saez gave Cairo Prince in the Remsen. “He knows the horse, and he knows not to make the same mistakes.”
8. Wicked Strong -- Trainer Jimmy Jerkens
Jan. 20: “People still don’t know how to gauge the (Remsen) because it was so slow – the pace was so slow. It was incredibly slow, and they sprinted home. He was going faster than all of them. He beat a nice horse (breaking his maiden). The horse that was second of John Shirreff’s (Cool Samurai) ended up going out to California to win his next race. I think it was a nice field my colt beat, and he came back good and ran good in the Remsen. All his races are legit. He’s a nice colt; he’s got good wind; he’s good and strong; and he’s got a bit of a streak in him, which is good. He’s a tough horse to handle, but he puts it all together on the track. He doesn’t cheat on the track. He’s all business when he gets out there.”
9. Conquest Titan -- Trainer Mark Casse
Jan. 5: On Jan. 4, Conquest Titan breezed a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00.50 in company with Coastline, who was clocked in 1:00.65, second fastest at the distance. “We don’t normally work them together, it just happened that way. Both of them are kind of on the same path in that they both ran toward the end of November, and we gave them a little bit of a break. Now, they’re both kind of getting cranked back up. We were wanting a good work out of them, and we got it. They went head and head, one was not better than the other. Both of them went really well, and we’re happy. I think they’re both on track for where they’re headed. When I say we gave them time off, they never missed any training. We just didn’t breeze them. They never stopped training, they just went through a period where we just galloped them. Coastline is a little bigger, wider kind of horse, where Titan is a little more compact. I can see where Titan has grown up, and Coastline is coming along well, too. I think they’re both above average horses; now we just need some luck.
“I was very happy to see (General a Rod) win the Derby, because Titan beat him pretty solidly (at Churchill Downs),” Casse said. “His horse was making only his second start (at Churchill), and he obviously is an improving horse, and I feel as though our horse is, as well. We’ll just have to see how it works out. This time of year, you have to have luck. You have to have things go your way, and have them stay happy and healthy. Every day you kind of hold your breath. Right now, we’re at a point in time where things can’t go wrong or you miss out on the Derby trail."
Jan. 10: “(The Breeders' Cup) wasn’t all his fault. I might have made some mistakes there. All along, he wanted to settle and make a run, and a lot of people thought in his last race that he got away bad. But that was the plan all along — to take him back and let him make a run. (General A Rod, second in that race) is an improving horse, and I feel ours is as well. We’ll just have to see how it works out.”
10. Big Bazinga -- Trainer Katerina Vassilleva
No quotes available.
11. Intense Holiday -- Trainer Todd Pletcher
Nov. 17: "I think he ran a sneaky good race in the Nashua. He had a troubled trip and should have been second with a little clearer run."
Jan. 20: “Intense Holiday is training well. I thought his race in the Remsen was sneaky good. He had a bit of a troubled trip in the Nashua, so hopefully we’re heading in the right direction with him.”
--Compiled by Dick Downey