Holy Bull and the Withers Stakes

We have two, even potentially three Kentucky Derby prep-races if we only count the stakes for three-year males. Who knows what can come out of a maiden or allowance race and although unlikely it is not a mathematical impossibility.

We have the Swale and Holy Bull at Gulfstream, and the Withers at Aqueduct.

The Withers drew a full field of 11 going a mile and an eighth around two turns. Aqueduct has not exactly been a Kentucky Derby winner producing factory of late. Early Voting is a tough play at a short price being asked to tackle a stake like this off one race, a maiden special weight win going a one turn mile. He looked like a runner in that win. He is by Gun Runner and we know the start he is off to as a stallion. He is also trained by Chad Brown. He has a lot going for him but will be a short price being asked to do something he hasn’t done and is at least statistically difficult and low percentage.

Normally you don’t take a short price in that situation. That said, Chad Brown doesn’t put his horses he thinks they can’t handle or will set them back. That tells me he either knows his horse is up to the task, or he thinks the race will do him good and he can build and go forward off it. I believe Chad has one or more Kentucky Derby’s with his name on it, so I’ll root for Early Voting to be one of the good ones and prove it on Saturday.

Cooke Creek drew a rough post but may improve some if he gets back on a fast track for this race. We’ll see.

The Holy Bull drew a field of 9. This one will be run at a mile and a sixteenth around the Hallandale oval. Mo Donegal and Tiz the Bomb should take the bulk of the money. Mo Donegal is on a lot of Kentucky Derby lists, mine isn’t one of them, after a controversial win in the Remsen. Tiz the Bomb has been running on turf but handles the dirt and showed his class running second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf back in November.

While those are the big two in the Holy Bull, I have my eye on two others. It might be an opportune time to use the Dutching calculator at AmWager for me.

Giant Game gets a switch to Luis Saez for this. He makes his three-year old debut and has a tough post to deal with but with a trip I think he can make noise here. He beat Call Me Midnight going a route at Keeneland and his race to Corniche, arguably the leader of the crop and class so far was not bad at all. Dale Romans is overdue to start making his presence felt in the big dances again and he might have a horse here who can do that.

White Abarrio is another making his three-year old debut. He comes out of a race many regard highly, the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club won by Smile Happy. He has speed, Tyler Gaffalione and Saffie Joseph in his corner. He is working well and won both his races at Gulfstream Park looking good.

It is always interesting to watch these races with an eye towards the future. Don’t only watch who you bet, watch them all as you will likely see them again and there is no better edge than spotting something that is not in the past performances. If you want a second set of trained eyes watching for you check out Tracking Trips at Past the Wire. Trip notes, angles, horses to watch and more. There is a large sample of what you’ll see as a member.

Enjoy the races and get the bobs!

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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