Kentucky Derby Prep Race Features Heavy Favorite Mohaymen
The graded stakes series at Gulfstream starts Saturday, January 30th with the $350,000 Holly Bull Stakes (G2). The Holy Bull gained its current Grade ll status in 2014, and the 1 1/16 mile race for three year olds is the 11th race and post time is at 5:05 CT.
Many handicappers will note this race and make a case for the heavy favorite MOHAYMEN, but there is little value betting into the early 6/5 favorite with just six horses in the field for three year olds. Mohaymen’s imposing presence clearly kept some challengers away, and this particular small field has few strong challengers. The top four finishers will earn Kentucky Derby points (10-4-2-1) and have a chance to earn more points in higher rated Derby prep races including the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream on April 2nd.
Mohaymen looks strong and is the clear choice with three wins in three races last year and some solid works into his 2016 debut. He’s the top Kentucky Derby prospect stabled on the East Coast and rallied off the lead to win both the Nashua (G2) and Remsen (G2) in November. Regular rider Junior Alvarado should have him in stalking position in a moderate pace.
Kiaran McLaughlin trained 2014 Holy Bull winner Cairo Prince and 2014 second place finisher Frosted. He’s been most impressed and enthusiastic with Mohaymen’s training working up to the race since arriving at Palm Meadows Training Center just North of Gulfstream.
“He’s the best we’ve ever had,” said McLaughlin. “We’ve had some good prospects in the past but never one who was 3 for 3 as a 2-year-old and one of the favorites from the start of the spring races.”
Mohaymen, the son of Tapit, put in his final work on January 21 and ran a bullet five furlongs in 59.40.
“I wanted him to go (a half-mile) in 48 and he went in 47,” said McLaughlin. “It was a little quicker, but he is just doing so well. He did it all on his own and he doesn’t blow at all coming back. He cools out so quick. We’re all set. All systems are go.”
If Mohaymen has progressed from last year, this race is likely over. But another New York shipper GREENPOINTCRUSADER is the choice if Mohaymen falters. The lone Grade 1 winner in the field, Greenpointcrusader won last fall’s Champagne at Belmont Park. The son of Bernardini ran seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in a troubled trip running wide throughout. However, the Holy Bull race setup doesn’t appear to fit his late closing style with a lack of front end speed.
CONQUEST BIG E has been an underachiever thus far, and his speed figure has not reached his maiden race of 100. He’s won at 1 1/16 mile and had a modest four furlong work in 49.00 on January 24 at Palm Meadows. Mike Smith takes the mount and he’ll have his horse on the lead looking to outduel Mohaymen.
However, in 23 races run at 1 1/16 mile at Gulfstream Park, there have been no wire-to-wire winners.
Watch this race with interest but save your money for better betting opportunities and value.