2023 Holy Bull Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview
The Gulfstream Park spur of the Kentucky Derby trail is one of the most perennially important prep series, and it gets underway in earnest Saturday, February 4, with the $250,000 Holy Bull (G3)! The race covers 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, and it drew a field of eight up-and-coming sophomores getting ready to make an impact on the way to the Kentucky Derby!
All of the horses in the Holy Bull come in with something to prove, as none are stakes winners yet. However, Legacy Isle would have won the Mucho Macho Man if not for a disqualification for drifting late, and horses like Cyclone Mischief and Rocket Can have shown strong ability in allowance company already.
Though the last time the Holy Bull produced a Kentucky Derby winner was in 2006 with the great Barbaro, it has produced several important winners in more recent years. 2020 winner Tiz the Law made the biggest splash in the Triple Crown season for a Holy Bull winner since Barbaro, winning the Belmont (G1) and finishing second to Authentic in the Kentucky Derby. And, just last year, White Abarrio went on to win the Florida Derby (G1).
Read on to find out the top contenders in the 2023 Holy Bull Stakes!
Holy Bull Stakes 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, February 4, 2023
Track: Gulfstream Park
Post Time: 5:43 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Holy Bull Stakes Odds
This is the field for the 2023 Holy Bull Stakes in post position order, including trainers and jockeys for each horse. Odds have not been assigned yet, though we will update this with odds once the racetrack releases that information.
|1||Lord Miles||Saffie Joseph, Jr.||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||4/1|
|2||West Coast Cowboy||Saffie Joseph, Jr.||Edgard Zayas||12/1|
|3||Shadow Dragon||Bill Mott||Jose Ortiz||15/1|
|4||Cyclone Mischief||Dale Romans||Tyler Gaffalione||2/1|
|5||Mr Bob||Robert Falcone, Jr.||Joel Rosario||10/1|
|6||Legacy Isle||Rohan Crichton||Luis Saez||7/2|
|7||Il Miracolo||Antonio Sano||Leonel Reyes||20/1|
|8||Rocket Can||Bill Mott||Junior Alvarado||7/2|
Holy Bull Stakes Prep Results
Out of the eight horses in the Holy Bull, four come out of the Mucho Macho Man. Run on January 1, the Mucho Macho Man is the first three-year-old stakes of the year at Gulfstream, though it is not a Kentucky Derby points race. Winner-by-disqualification Dreaming of Kona does not turn up in the Holy Bull, but one of the leading contenders is Legacy Isle, the horse who crossed the wire first by half a length but was taken down for drifting. Third-place Lord Miles, sixth-place Mr Bob, and seventh-place Il Miracolo all return to the Holy Bull. Lord Miles came close, and sixth-place Mr Bob closed up ground after early trouble, though Il Miracolo just appears to have come up flat.
One other in the field comes from stakes company. Shadow Dragon most recently ran in the Sleepy Hollow against fellow New York-breds and has been on the shelf since that sixth-place finish October 30.
The other three all come from first-level allowance company. Cyclone Mischief won at that level, going a mile on January 8 at Gulfstream. Rocket Can was second in a 1 1/16 allowance affair at Churchill Downs on November 26, while West Coast Cowboy was fourth going a mile at Gulfstream on November 27
Holy Bull Stakes Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Holy Bull Stakes, organized by post position:
Lord Miles: He likes Gulfstream, as he graduated in a sprint there and finished a late-flying third in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man January 1. The running style is a liability since Gulfstream is often so speed-friendly, but he adds blinkers for the first time, and he has already proven that, even if the blinkers don’t make him super speedy early, that he can close over the Gulfstream course. His pedigree also suggests the stretch out to two turns will be what this son of Curlin wants.
West Coast Cowboy: He broke his maiden at first, asking over a sloppy Gulfstream course September 18, but came up flat on fast dirt over the same course and distance November 27. Trainer Saffie Joseph does well with fresh horses, and there is a strong chance he can improve at two turns, though he needs a serious step forward from either of his efforts to keep up with even this modest Holy Bull group.
Shadow Dragon: A late-flying, narrow winner against New York-bred foes at first asking in September, he stepped up to New York-bred stakes company on October 30 but finished an empty sixth. He has been off since then and returns in a Grade 3: an ambitious move, but one trainer Bill Mott does not typically make it without having a very good reason to make it. This, combined with the fact that he has a good shot to stretch out to this distance, gives him some longshot appeal.
Cyclone Mischief: This Dale Romans trainee has won two of his four starts, most recently a first-level allowance over the local course on January 8. Though that came over the one-turn mile, he broke his maiden at 1 1/16 miles on the Keeneland dirt, meaning he has shown some two-turn ability as well. His tactical speed gives him a change for a good trip as well. As long as he does not regress from last out—a strong possibility, given trainer Romans’ good percentage with last-out winners—he shapes a major contender.
Mr Bob: His connections claimed him for $75,000 out of his debut and he paid quick dividends, winning a $150,000 maiden claimer at Keeneland next out. He then achieved a stakes placing at Churchill, also sprinting 6 ½ furlongs, before finishing a troubled sixth in the Mucho Macho Man. He comes into the Holy Bull, his first two-turn start, with some upside: early trouble had him farther off the pace than usual in the Mucho MachoMan, and he showed more tactical pace in his other starts.
Legacy Isle: He has never crossed the wire worse than first in three starts, though he was disqualified to second in the Mucho Macho Man after drifting late. All three of his starts have come at Gulfstream, so the track surface is no question. He has also shown good tactical versatile: he made the running in both his debut and the Mucho Macho Man, though he stalked a couple of lengths off the pace in his allowance win. He gets a change to Luis Saez, who should be a good fit given that he is an aggressive rider who wins prodigiously at Gulfstream.
Il Miracolo: The most experienced horse in the field, he has run six times. It took him four tries at Gulfstream to break his maiden, all of which came at Gulfstream. However, his two subsequent races in stakes company have been nowhere near as good. Even if the Remsen went poorly due to the sloppy conditions, he failed to kick on in the Mucho Macho Man at his home track against several foes he faces again in the Holy Bull, making him a deserved longshot.
Rocket Can: Another Bill Mott trainee, Rocket Can won a maiden special weight at Churchill two starts back, his first start over two turns. He came back with a good second in a first-level allowance behind Confidence Game, who came back to finish third behind Instant Coffee in the Lecomte (G3) last month. His tactical speed should play well from the outside, giving him a strong chance if he handles the Gulfstream surface.
Holy Bull Stakes Past Winners Past Performances
Over the last ten years, Holy Bull winners have come from a variety of places. The tightest trend is that they have been hitting the board in their most recent races: over the last ten years, six Holy Bull winners won their last race, one was second, and three were third.
The races to supply the most winners across that ten-year span have been the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) and the Remsen (G2). Tiz the Law (2020) and White Abarrio (2022) both came out of third-place runs in the Remsen, while Cairo Prince (2014) and Mohaymen (2016) came out of second- and first-place finishes in the Remsen, respectively.
The two other stakes to produce Holy Bull winners in the last ten years were the Gulfstream Park Derby (a New Year’s Day dirt mile over the local track, analogous to today’s Mucho Macho Man), which Itsmyluckyday (2013) won, and the Marylander at Laurel, which Irish War Cry won before taking the Holy Bull.
Three of the last ten—in fact, three of the last five!—winners of the Holy Bull have done so in their stakes debut. Audible (2018) came out of an allowance win at Aqueduct, while Harvey Wallbanger (2019) and Greatest Honour (2021) came out of maiden special weights at Aqueduct and Gulfstream, respectively.
Holy Bull Stakes Undercard
The Holy Bull is the Saturday headliner, but not the only major race on the card. It is one of five graded stakes on Saturday’s card at Gulfstream Park. All five graded races are restricted to three-year-olds, meaning they can shine some light on the Derby trail, the Oaks trail, and beyond. The Forward Gal (G3), which features a field of fillies, is a points race for the Kentucky Oaks. The card also includes the Swale (G3) for dirt sprinters, the Kitten’s Joy (G3) for turf males, and the Sweetest Chant (G3) for turf route fillies. With such exciting action all day, make sure to tune in on FanDuel TV and place your bets through FanDuel and TVG!
Gulfstream Park is the historic racetrack that hosts the Florida Derby each year. It is the only American racetrack that offers all three racing surfaces: conventional dirt, turf, and a synthetic Tapeta surface. The outer track is a dirt course measuring 1 1/8 miles around, complete with a chute that allows for classic one-turn dirt mile races. The next track inward is a one-mile and seventy-yard Tapeta track that opened in 2021. The inner course is a seven-furlong turf track.
Gulfstream Park has hosted many major races over the years, including the Breeders’ Cup in 1989, 1992, and 1999. In 2017, the race ran the rich Pegasus World Cup Turf for the first time, which was at one time the world’s richest horse race. But the Florida Derby, run along the road to the Kentucky Derby, remains Gulfstream Park’s most established and famous race.
Holy Bull Stakes FAQ
Q: When is the Holy Bull Stakes?
A: The 2023 Holy Bull Stakes will be run Saturday, February 4, at Gulfstream Park, the 10th and final race on the card.
Q: Where is the Holy Bull Stakes?
A: It takes place at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Holy Bull Stakes?
A: Two trainers are tied for the most victories in the Holy Bull, Nick Zito, and Kiaran McLaughlin. Zito is still training but does not have an entrant in the Holy Bull this year; McLaughlin has stepped away from training though he is currently the jockey’s agent for Luis Saez, rider of Legacy Isle. Among trainers with a horse in the 2023 Holy Bull, the only one who has won before is Saffie Joseph, Jr., trainer of 2022 winner White Abarrio. He sends out a pair this year, Lord Miles and West Coast Cowboy.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Holy Bull Stakes?
A: The morning line has not been released yet. However, the likely favorite is either Cyclone Mischief, who comes out of a strong local allowance win on January 8, or Legacy Isle, who crossed the wire first in the Mucho Macho Man but was placed second for drifting out late.
Q: Who is the best Holy Bull Stakes jockey?
A: Jerry Bailey rode five Holy Bull winners between 1990 and 1998 but has since retired. Among jockeys taking calls in the 2023 Holy Bull, Jose Ortiz leads all riders with two. He rode both Upstart (2015) and Greatest Honour (2021). Jose Ortiz rides Shadow Dragon this year.
Q: Who won the 2022 Holy Bull Stakes?
A: White Abarrio won the 2022 Holy Bull for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. and jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Joseph sends out Lord Miles and Legacy Cowboy, while Gaffalione will ride Cyclone Mischief for trainer Dale Romans.