Todd Pletcher Scores His First Ever Holy Bull Win
The Derby Trail is littered with challenges and today Hansen faced his first. Coming in as the undefeated 2-yr-old champion, Hansen entered the starting gate as the overwhelming 4-5 favorite. But as it is on the road to the derby, there are no safe bets.
The headline coming in was Hansen’s 3-yr-old debut but right behind it was his running style – Front Runner. Until today it hadn’t been touched regardless of the distance in each of his first three races. But in the Holy Bull his pace was just too hot and Algorithms was there to reap the benefits. After creeping up on the pace setter little by little the race was already in hand by the time they reached the eighth pole. Once Alogrithms passed is when he put Hansen away and soared home for the convincing win.
G3 Holy Bull Stakes | Purse $400,000 | 1 Mile | Dirt | 1:36.17 – Track Sloppy
- Algorithms $7.00 $2.80 $2.40
- Hansen $2.40 $2.10
- My Adonis $4.00
$2 Exacta $16.20 $1 Trifecta 50.70 $1 Superfecta $158.50
- Also Ran (in order of finish) Fort Loudon, Silver Max, Consortium – Equibase Chart
So the Holy Bull results are in the books but the derby trail is anything but. Let’s begin with our winner.
Algorithms Owner Starlight Racing – Trainer Todd Pletcher – Jockey Javier Castellano
The question is; how big of an upset was this? Not too big. Todd Pletcher is on a hot streak right now and is one of the best trainers in the sport. There’s no doubt that his strategy and expectations of Hansen were right on target. While the trainer gets his credit it doesn’t take anything away from the horse.
This young and lightly raced colt showed a lot of maturity today by relaxing very well off the pace and making a strong move around the final turn. And finally when he passed Hansen there wasn’t any question about it, Algorithms was your Holy Bull winner.
So for anyone that didn’t have a pulse on this horse before the Holy Bull, it is now safe to put him on your Kentucky Derby Contender list. We are still in the very early stages of the trail but he definitely earned our attention today. Algorithms is going to be very interesting to watch as he continues to progress. With today being his longest race to date it will also be interesting to see how he performs in longer distances and against larger fields.
It’s too early to tell what race Todd Pletcher will enter him into next but Gulfstream would seem to be the likely venue. As for Todd Pletcher himself, believe or not, there are a few Derby Prep races that he has yet to win. After the scoring today, the Holy Bull is no longer on that list.
Hansen Owner Kendall Hansen Trainer Micheal Maker Jockey Ramon Dominguez
Sometimes fast is too fast. Today that’s what cost Hansen the most. Even though he stumbled out of the starting gate he recovered well and went straight to the front. His trademark pace setter style was in full effect but his fractional times were far too quick.
In Hansen’s previous two wins, the Kentucky Cup Juvenile and BC Juvenile, his opening fractions were on par with today’s opening quarter of 23.64. As his lead grew to almost 4 lengths along the backstretch though, his foot wasn’t coming off the pedal. His second quarter fraction of :22.03 made the Holy Bull his fastest opening half mile yet – :45.67. Rounding out the hot pace Hansen clipped the 3/4 mile marker in 1:10.21, his quickest and a full two seconds faster than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
I don’t question his strategy because early speed had been his friend. What I do question is if Hansen will be able to curb his aggression a little bit more. There is plenty of time to improve so I don’t consider this race to be an indication that Hansen is off the derby contender radar. Keeping his 2-yr-old season credentials in mind, we’ll have to write this race off for now and wait to see him next time out. Then we can really gauge his odds of winning in May.
As to where the derby trail will go from here I expect the original plan to stay on course. Look for Hansen to remain on the Florida Prep circuit and be back at Gulfstream for the Fountain of Youth on Feb 26.
As for third place finisher My Adonis his derby hopes are still in play. A late rally from well off the pace was a nice effort and secured him his first top three finish in a graded stakes race. I can’t say for sure what his connections will decide next but they may return him for a prep race at a distance over 1 mile.
As for the remainder of the field their derby dreams aren’t shattered yet but there’s a lot graded stakes earnings to be had and improvements to be made. That’s why so many love the Kentucky Derby trail; You may be out today but there’s still so many ways to get back in tomorrow.
Written by: Little Brink