Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sophomore Spotlight: Holy Bull

--Brian DiDonato

Breeders’ Cup winners have historically been significant underlays in their subsequent return races, and Hansen (Tapit) should be no exception in Gulfstream's GIII Holy Bull S. Sunday. While his Eclipse-earning form in 2011 was solid, it’s likely that he will regress off the bench--especially with serious early pressure. Recent maiden breaker Silver Max (Badge of Silver) has proven unable to rate, and if My Adonis (Pleasantly Perfect) runs as quick early as he did last time in the GIII Delta Jackpot (95 Moss Pace Figure - 23 points above par), he’ll add more fuel to the fire. My Adonis has run slower early in past efforts, but he enters this race with three straight bullet drills, including a :34 4/5 spin at Palm Meadows Jan. 22--much faster than what any of the other nine workers at that distance went in.

With Fort Loudon (Awesome of Course)’s speed figures ruling him out for the top slot, this becomes a two-horse race between Algorithms (Bernardini) and Consortium (Bernardini). While the former came out ahead in the first "Battle of the Bernardinis" here with a slightly tougher trip going 6 1/2 furlongs Dec. 16, Consortium offers more upside--especially at this longer distance. Algorithms hails from a family of predominantly sprinters (namely Keyed Entry and Justin Phillip), whereas Consortium is the first foal out of a GSW at 1 1/8 miles who was out of a nine-furlong GSW herself. Consortium also gets Lasix for the first time--trainer Kiaran McLaughlin boasts a $2.28 ROI (23%) over the past five years with horses adding Lasix in stakes races, according to DRF Formulator. McLaughlin swept Aqueduct’s 3-year-old stakes Jan. 7 with Captivating Lass (A.P. Indy) and Alpha (Bernardini)--both were adding Lasix and ran new Beyer tops in victory.

Consortium won’t be too high of a price facing just five foes, but his odds will be inflated thanks to the presence of Hansen. Something in the 3-1 or 7-2 range would be value. A straight double with Sacristy (Pulpit) in the preceding GII Forward Gal S. might also be a worthwhile play. While she figures to be a short price, if the field remains intact, she is a very likely winner due to the projected pace scenario.

For a longshot, take a look at In The Beat (Street Sense) in Race 7, a tough 8 1/2-furlong allowance that features several runners that should probably be in the Holy Bull. While In The Beat only has one race in his career that makes him competitive here, his Nov. 26 maiden breaker was very solid and hard to explain away. He came from far off a slow pace, earned a competitive Beyer with this bunch (83) and has been flattered by runner-up Radiant Talent (Johannesburg), who earned an 88 when donning cap and gown before finishing a solid second in a Fair Grounds allowance. In The Beat figures to appreciate this trip, despite failing to show up at a mile here Jan. 7. He was never put into the race in that effort behind a slow pace, and now gets a rider change with several solid-looking drills in the interim for team Street Sense (Tafel/Nafzger).

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