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Aaron previews the 2023 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) from Gulfstream Park, then gives his top picks & long shots from this Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race. Impressive recent allowance winner Cyclone Mischief steps back up to the Derby trail and will face off against Legacy Isle, who was disqualified from winning the 2023 Mucho Macho Man Stakes last time out. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Trainer Dale Romans won’t be lacking in confidence when he saddles Cyclone Mischief for a start in Saturday’s $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
“I think he’s one of the best 3-year-olds in the country, and he’s training like one,” Romans said. “There are a lot of good horses out there, but we’re in a good spot right now.”
The Holy Bull, a 1 1/16-mile stakes on the road to the Triple Crown, will headline a program with five graded stakes for 3-year-olds.
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Albaugh Family Stable LLC and Castleton Lyons’ Cyclone Mischief is coming off an eye-catching Jan. 8 optional claiming allowance victory at Gulfstream. The son of Into Mischief, who was purchased for $450,000 at the 2021 Keeneland September sale, saved ground while stalking the early pace before making a three-wide sweep to take the lead on the turn into the homestretch and drawing off to win by 5 ¾ lengths.
Romans had identified Cyclone Mischief as a colt with Triple Crown potential before he made the first start of his career – a third-place finish in a mile maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs Sept. 16 in which he set a pressured pace before weakening late.
“He was a horse we were pointing for the Triple Crown trail. He got started late, so we started him out long,” Romans said.
Cyclone Mischief came back a month later to graduate with authority in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight race at Keeneland, where he contested the early pace before drawing clear by 5 ¼ lengths. In his stakes debut in the Nov. 26 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), he took the lead in the stretch after contesting the pace but faltered to finish seventh, beaten by 2 ¾ lengths by victorious Instant Coffee, who came back to win the Le Comte (G3) Jan. 21 at Fair Grounds.
“That was a very good race,” Romans said.
Cyclone Mischief has breezed twice since his most promising 3-year-old debut, including a five-furlong workout in 1:01.41 Saturday morning
“Cyclone is coming into the race as good as he can,” Romans said.
Tyler Gaffalione, who rode Cyclone Mischief for the first time in his Gulfstream score, has the return mount.
Daniel Walters, Dennis Smith, Anthony Smith and trainer Rohan Crichton’s Legacy Island would have been bringing an undefeated record into the Holy Bull had he not been disqualified from first in the Jan. 1 Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream.
The son of Shackleford graduated by five lengths at 6 ½ furlongs before taking a mile optional claiming allowance by three lengths. Legacy Island prevailed in the Mucho Macho Man by a half-length but was disqualified and placed second for drifting out late into Dreaming of Kona, who was awarded the victory.
2023 Kentucky Derby
Hall of Fame Bill Mott, who saddled Art Collector for a victory in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) presented by Baccarat, has entered two 3-year-olds in the Holy Bull – Frank Fletcher Racing Operations Inc’s Rocket Can and Peachtree Stable’s Shadow Dragon.
Rocket Can, also a son of Into Mischief, broke his maiden at third asking n his first try around two turns, graduating by two lengths Oct. 30 at Churchill Downs. The $245,000 purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale came back to finish second, beaten by a half-length, is an optional claiming allowance in his juvenile finale at Churchill Downs.
“Rocket Can broke his maiden and is coming off a good allowance race. He ran a pretty creditable race at Churchill,” Mott said. “He has sort of improved steadily with each start.”
Shadow Dragon, a New York-bred son of Army Mule, won at first asking at Aqueduct Sept. 29 before finishing off the board in the mile Sleepy Hollow of state-breds.
The New York-bred won first out and didn’t show much the second race. [Peachtree Stable’s] Mr. [John] Fort wants to take a shot and see where we’re at and then we’ll obviously reevaluate after we see the race,” Mott said.
Junior Alvarado, who rode Art Collector to victory Saturday, has the call on Rocket Can, while Jose Ortiz has the mount aboard Shadow Dragon.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is also represented by a pair of colts in the Holy Bull field – Vegso Racing Stable’s Lord Miles and Gentry Farms’ West Coast Cowboy.
Lord Miles made an auspicious debut Nov. 19 at Gulfstream, overcoming early bumping to win by 5 ¾ lengths going away. The homebred son of Curlin dropped well off the early pace in the Mucho Macho Man before surging late to finish third, less than a length behind Legacy Isle.
Irad Ortiz Jr. has the call on Lord Miles, while Edgard Zayas is named on West Coast Cowboy.
West Coast Cowboy won at first asking at Gulfstream Sept. 18 with a front-running narrow victory at a mile. The son of West Coast raced evenly in his return to finish fourth behind Legacy Isle in a Nov. 27 optional claiming allowance.
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John Grossi’s Racing Corp., Beast Mode Racing LLC and trainer Robert Falcone Jr.’s Mr Bob, who was claimed for $75,000 out of a third-place finish in his debut at Saratoga, graduated for his new connections for a $150,000 claiming price at Keeneland Oct. 28. The son of Practical Joke came back to finish a close second in the 6 ½-furlong Ed Brown Stakes at Churchill Downs. He finished sixth in the Mucho Macho Man after a slow start.
Joel Rosario is scheduled to ride Mr Bob for the first time in the Holy Bull.
Alex Andres’ Il Miracolo, who broke his maiden impressively at Gulfstream Park in November, enters the Holy Bull off a pair of off-the-board finishes in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct and the Mucho Macho Man.
Leonel Reyes, who was aboard for Il Miracolo’s maiden win, will return aboard the Antonio Sano trainee.
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