The final race of the three Derby Trail preps today is the G2 Holy Bull, which goes as Race 12 today at Gulfstream Park.
There are at least two horses coming out of this race. Mississippi, who drew the far outside, is coming out, as is Hollywood Star, one of the two Albaugh runners for Dale Romans.
Let’s take a look at the field.
#1 Enticed (3-1) – He was close to the fast pace in the Champagne and held well for third before winning the Kentucky Jockey Club over Thanksgiving weekend with a very good inside/out trip. He’s drawn perfectly well today and will be closer to the pace, thus getting the jump on, his chief rival in here. He’s the one to beat.
#2 Free Drop Billy (6-1) – He just missed the Hopeful at Saratoga with a strong close before rallying nicely to win the slow Breeders Futurity. His Breeders Cup is excusable as he spent the bulk of the race on the bad inside that day at Del Mar. He’s 6-1 on the line but I think he’ll get bet down a bit from there and I’m just not completely sold on him, though he is a logical contender.
#3 Master Manipulator (20-1) – He wired a maiden field last time and is likely going to the lead today under Jose Ortiz but he’ll be pressed by some quality rivals and unless the track comes up heavily speed-favoring, he’s tough to make.
#4 Audible (6-1) – Todd Pletcher shipped him down to Florida after the bad weather spell early in January up in New York. A NY-bred, he crushed open allowance runners on December 6th, but that was a very weak field, and he was 1-5 in there. This is his two-turn debut, but he runs like that shouldn’t be a problem for him either. He’s an interesting alternative and goes out for the top Pletcher/Castellano team.
#5 Bandito (20-1) – He won a slow off-the-turf maiden race at Keeneland and set the pace in the Remsen before stopping. He seems likely to go to the lead or press Master Manipulator and help ensure a solid pace.
#6 Hollywood Star (12-1) – SCRATCHED.
#7 Tiz Mischief (4-1) – We really liked his maiden-breaking win on October 7th at Keeneland, where he had to start and stop before surging late to just get up at 8.5 furlongs. He then just got beat a head, by Enticed, in the Kentucky Jockey Club when rallying from off the pace. He had to weave around a tiring rival and was inside of Enticed in the stretch. There should be some pace for him here and we do think he’s better than Free Drop Billy. The concern is the short-stretch and the layoff, but we like him as a prospect and he’s our pick.
#8 Pony Up (8-1) – He’s run reasonably well on grass lately but gets back on dirt today. His lone dirt start was a decent second but that was going five furlongs. It stands to reason that if Pletcher thought he was a dirt horse, we would have seen him on the grass before this race.
#9 Tip Sheet (30-1) – He stumbled at the start of his last race and ran decently but was still well beaten behind well-regarded Noble Indy and Mississippi, who is scratching out of this race. His previous races were in the slop and his last fast-track race was a 74 Beyer in September. With routine improvement, it’s not inconceivable that he could get his figure into the 80s, which gives him a chance to hit the board at a huge price.
#10 Aequor (15-1) – He’s drawn poorly outside and will have to either be hard-used to get to the lead or sit back off the pace today and risk getting stuck wide. Neither option is very attractive.
#11 Mississippi (5-1) – SCRATCHED. He’s going to run in an allowance race on Sunday.
Pace Analysis – The pace should be solid with longshots Master Manipulator and Bandito setting the fractions. If Aequor is used early, he’ll be part of the pace as well. Even with the short-stretch, the fractions should be honest enough for the off-the-pace movers.
Final Thoughts – Tiz Mischief is the pick to flip the script on Enticed today. In multi-race wagers, we’ll stand with those two. In trifectas, we’ll use Audible and be sure to throw in Pony Up and Free Drop Billy underneath.