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Itsmyluckyday photo courtesy of Coglianese Photos/Kenny Martin

The $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) is the first of two Gulfstream Park prep races on the road to the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 30. Not only that, the Holy Bull is a points race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1), the new system which will determine which horses are eligible to enter the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. As the opportunities for earning points are limited to designated races, each race from now until the end of April carries greater and greater significance to the owners and trainers of any aspiring Derby contender.

Leading the field for the Holy Bull is undefeated Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Eclipse Award winner Shanghai Bobby, currently second in points earned to date. Rested since his game win by a head on the first weekend in November, Shanghai Bobby attempts to do what the 2011 Juvenile winner Hansen failed to do when second in this race last year. Nine talented sophomores are lined up to try to hand Shanghai Bobby his first defeat, foremost among them Itsmyluckyday, winner of the Gulfstream Park Derby last month by nearly seven lengths. Bern Identity won the Sanford Stakes (G2) last summer and the Jean Lafitte Stakes last fall before a runner-up effort in the Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3), so he has the credentials to play spoiler, as does Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) runner-up Frac Daddy. Kentucky Jockey Club third-place finisher Dewey Square has room to improve after finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind Frac Daddy, while Sr. Quisqueyano was well beaten by Itsmyluckyday when second in the Gulfstream Park Derby, but at the same time he ran the best race of his career. Clearly Now was last seen finishing third in the Display Stakes and can improve, while recent one-two finishers in a highly rated allowance race at Gulfstream on December 8 – Tulira Castle and Fredricksburg - can improve as many newly turned 3-year-olds have done in the past. Joshua’s Comprise rounds out the field.

Itsmyluckyday won as he pleased by 6 3/4 lengths in his most recent start on New Year’s Day, winning the first “Derby” of the season, the Gulfstream Park Derby. Earning a 107 Equibase Speed Figure that not only is his career best but is tied for the best figure in the field (equal to the 107 Shanghai Bobby earned winning the Champagne Stakes [G1]), Itsmyluckyday has familiarity with the course and could have an edge in terms of having raced more recently than the other Holy Bull entrants that are making their first starts of 2013. Those two factors could propel Itsmyluckyday squarely into the Kentucky Derby picture with a win.

Shanghai Bobby enters the Holy Bull Stakes as the undefeated 2012 2-year-old champion. His Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victory — in which he appeared to be slowing down considerably after making the lead, only to go from second gear all the way to top gear in an instant as he battled He’s Had Enough the length of the stretch, never letting his foe get by him — showed fierce determination. Although the Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Juvenile was only 86, compared with all 90 or above including 107 in the Champagne, Shanghai Bobby demonstrated one of the characteristics of a champion in the Juvenile with his refusal to lose and has every right to pick up where he left off in November, with a win.



Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Bern Identity won two stakes in 2012, the Sanford in July and the Jean Laffite two races later, with a career-best 102 Equibase Speed Figure earned in that victory. Rallying from last of nine in the Delta Jackpot in his next start, Bern Identity could only manage second to the talented Goldencents, but earned the same 102 figure. With Goldencents having validated the win by taking the Sham Stakes (G3) recently, Bern Identity has every right to run even better as a more mature 3-year-old and is another that would be no surprise winning the Holy Bull.

Frac Daddy rounds out a quartet of top contenders in the Holy Bull, having last been seen battling head-and-head over the last quarter of a mile in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last November, coming up inches short of victory at the wire. Prior to the Jockey Club, Frac Daddy dominated by nearly 10 lengths to win with a sparkling (for a second-time starter) 105 Equibase Speed Figure at the distance of the Holy Bull. As such, Frac Daddy is another who deserves respect when considering who can win this race. 

The rest of the field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Clearly Now (95), Dewey Square (94), Fredricksburg (92), Joshua’s Comprise (75), Sr. Quisqueyano (96) and Tulira Castle (96).

My Selections:


Shanghai Bobby

Bern Identity

Frac Daddy

$400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3)

Saturday, Race 1, Gulfstream Park, 5:05 PM E.T.

1 1/16 miles, 3-year-olds






Shanghai Bobby (KY)

R. Napravnik

T A Pletcher


Frac Daddy (KY)

D. Cohen

K G McPeek


Clearly Now (KY)

L. Saez

B A Lynch


Bern Identity (KY)

P. Lopez

K J Breen


Sr. Quisqueyano (FL)

J. Rosario

L Olivares


Dewey Square (KY)

C.J. Lanerie

D L Romans


Itsmyluckyday (KY)

E. Trujillo

E Plesa Jr.


Tulira Castle (KY)

J. Castellano

J P DiVito


Fredricksburg (KY)

J.R. Velazquez

M R Matz


Joshua's Comprise (FL)

K.J. Desormeaux

B R Rose

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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