The 2021 Holy Bull Stakes Preview

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, January 30, 2021

Once again, we find ourselves at Gulfstream Park for the weekend's biggest stakes races. Two-weeks ago it was the Sunshine Millions, KNICKS GO in a sensational performance in last week's $3 million Pegasus Invitational and the Holy Bull Stakes today.

Horseplayers should know the south Florida track intimately by now. We've certainly noticed a bias, speed, speed and more speed. It seemed like every horse that got to the front in the last two-weeks stayed there all the way to the winners' circle.

Pegasus Invitational champ KNICKS GO went to the front right out of the gate and never looked back, getting his photo taken and collecting a fat $1.2 million. Gulfstream track Announcer Peter Aiello told The Player's Edge Podcast that horses that get out early in routes have an advantage at his home track, especially those running at 1 1/16 miles, like the Holy Bull.

The race essentially starts on the first turn. From experience and the eye test from watching race after race at GP, inside speed tends to benefit when turning left almost immediately after the gates open.  Longshot WILLY BOI (PP: 2 ML 10-1) is the inside horse with the most speed in the Holy Bull's field of nine. The lightly raced son of UNCAPTURED has two runs on his resume, both 6 furlong wins on Gulfstream's main track. His half-mile fractions improved noticeably in race number two compared to his debut. Although sprint speed doesn't always translate to route speed, WILLY BOI'S early and mid-race pace figures suggest he'll be the one to catch.

PRIME FACTOR (PP: 6 ML 3-1) won his debut, destroying a field of nine by 8 ¾ length. He co-piloted to the quarter pole and then said bye-bye; easy work. Trainer Todd Pletcher put him in the barn following the December 12th blowout. But don't think he's going to come back to the track rusty after a little time off. Two bullet workouts out of three puts the rest of the field on notice. He's sharp and ready to pick up where he left off, maybe even better.

Jockey Tyler Gaffalione probably wants to take AWESOME GERRY (PP: 9 ML 8-1) to the front of the race. Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. tried his horse at a route for the first time last out, running 1 mile on Gulfstream dirt. He led for the first half mile, running a brisk 46 seconds before fading to third at the wire. To his defense, the colt had some troubles at the beginning of his trip, breaking out from the five-hole and bumping around a bit with other horses. Surely, ping-ponging took something from his late legs. If Gaffalione can get him out straight and fast in the Holy Bull, he could have a chance as Joseph has won five of his last 15 with horses trying a route for the second time.

On paper, WILLY BOI, PRIME FACTOR and AWESOME GERRY are the three fastest horses, let's see how they run and if any can duplicate KNICKS GO's wire to wire win.

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