Mucho Macho Man heads a field of nine 3-year-old thoroughbreds Sunday as the lukewarm 5-2 morning line favorite in the 22nd running of the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
In five starts, Mucho Macho Man has never been off the board and he comes into the race with two second-place finishes in the Nashua Stakes (G2) and Remsen Stakes (G2) last November to the talented To Honor And Serve who is one of my favorites on the Derby trail (see December 23 blog).
His 101 Brisnet Speed Figure in the Remsen Stakes is the highest of all the horses in the race and three straight bullet work outs leading up to the Holy Bull indicate that he is ready to run and will be tough to beat.
Trained by Nick Zito, Dialed In (6-1) steps up into stakes competition for the first time and comes into the Holy Bull off of a 6 ½ - furlong maiden win last November at Churchill Downs. The step up in class will give Dialed In a chance to show if he belongs on the Derby trail.
With three straight bullet work outs, Dialed In also appears to be another horse ready to run and he should be competitive in the Holy Bull.
Two long shots I like are Leave Of Absence (10-1) and Major Gain (8-1).
Leave Of Absence has never run in a route race, but he has good speed and in his last race he closed from fourth-place at the top of the stretch to finish second in the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
His breeding also is a good fit for the Holy Bull. His sire, Harlan’s Holiday, sired the 2009 Holy Bull winner Saratoga Sinner. His damsire, Joyeux Danseur, won most of his races on the turf and was competitive from 8- to 9-furlongs.
In his second start as a 2-year-old, Major Gain broke his maiden in the one-mile Arlington-Washington Futurity Stakes (G3) at Arlington Park last September in a time of 1:36.36. Major Gain has some good speed and his 96 speed figure for that race makes him competitive in this field.
In his last race, Major Gain narrowly lost by one-half length to Santiva and Astrology in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on November 27.
Major Gain comes into the race off of a two-month layoff, but trainer Wayne Catalano must be confident about his chance as he starts his 3-year-old season in stakes competition. A nice work out over the Gulfstream Park surface January 8 should have him ready to run a good race.
Another long shot I like is Ribo Bobo (15-1), but I’m not as solid on him as I am on the others.
With seven starts, Ribo Bobo has the most racing experience of all the other horses entered in the field. In his last four races, all of them stakes races, Ribo Bobo has one win and two second-place finishes and he finished off the board in the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Ribo Bobo appears to be a horse that runs good or not at all. When he runs well, Ribo Bobo finishes no worse than second. When he runs poorly, Ribo Bobo is off the board.
Ribo Bobo has the breeding to easily be competitive in the Holy Bull, but the jockey switch to Edgar Prado is the main he main reason he looks interesting. Prado has a ton of racing experience at Gulfstream Park and maybe that experience can earn the duo a trip to the winners circle.
Whether I use Ribo Bobo will depend a lot on how he looks in the post parade. In the Pasco Stakes he was fractious and finished sixth in an eight-horse field.
If Ribo Bobo looks good, I’ll give him a chance.