2011 Fountain of Youth Stakes – Winner: Soldat
2011 Hutchenson Stakes – Winner: Flashpoint
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2011 Fountain of Youth Stakes – Winner: Soldat
2011 Hutchenson Stakes – Winner: Flashpoint
Tags: 2011 Fountain of Youth Race Replay, 2011 Fountain of Youth Stakes, 2011 Fountain of Youth Video, 2011 Hutchenson Stakes, 2011 Kentucky Derby Past Performances, 2011 Kentucky Derby Race Replay, Flashpoint, Gourmet Dinner, Gulfstream Park, Soldat, To Honor And Serve
By Bill Finley
What already promised to be one of the most exciting Triple Crown campaigns ever got that much better Sunday when a horse named Dialed In put in the kind of effort in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream that suggested he could be a superstar in the making. In him, Uncle Mo and To Honor and Serve, we have three stakes winners that have been nothing less than brilliant. To suggest any one of them could go down as one of the best ever is not at all preposterous.
There was a lot of hype about Dialed In after he broke his maiden in November at Churchill Downs. He broke slowly, trailed well behind the field, was all over the racetrack and, somehow, managed to run down the leaders to win by a half-length. It was as visually impressive a win as they get.
The next logical step for Dialed In would have been an allowance race, and trainer Nick Zito had one in mind on Jan. 21, but the weather threw him a curveball. When the track came up sloppy, he decided to scratch. Faced with no other practical options, Zito then put Dialed In in the Holy Bull.
I didn’t think he had a prayer. No matter how talented a horse is, to go up against experienced, quality stakes horses like Gourmet Dinner and Mucho Macho Man off just a maiden win is an immensely difficult challenge. Very few can pull it off, especially horses who won with a meager 75 Beyer number in their debuts.
For Dialed In, though, the Holy Bull was another cakewalk. He again lagged well behind the field, closed on the inside, wheeled to the outside as the field turned into the stretch and then motored past his rivals to win drawing away. It was the same type of electrifying performance he gave in his maiden win, but the competition was much better this time.
“He’s very special. I’ve never had a horse do this — go from a maiden special race to jump up and win a race like the Holy Bull,” Zito said.
Zito wasn’t sure what he would do with Dialed In next. Having won the Holy Bull, he’s in a position to pick his spots more carefully. Now, he doesn’t have to rush anything and with the $240,000 the colt earned Sunday, he may already have enough in earnings to make the Derby field. It’s likely, though, that the Fountain of Youth and/or the Florida Derby will be on his schedule.
A few hours before the Holy Bull, 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo had his first workout of the year, a 3-furlong breeze at Palm Meadows in preparation for the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby. On paper, the time (:39.80) was terrible, but that’s probably no reason to worry. He is in the hands of Todd Pletcher and Pletcher certainly knows what he’s doing, slow works or not.
As a 2-year-old, Uncle Mo turned in the type of dominant performances we used to get from horses like Spectacular Bid and Seattle Slew. There was him and there was everyone else; his competitors didn’t belong in the same universe as him.
(How about his owner, Mike Repole? The guy is talking about buying into the Mets, he just picked up an Eclipse Award and on Sunday his beloved St. John’s routed No. 3 Duke. And did anyone notice that he was sitting on the St. John’s bench? That is some serious clout.)
But, now, who knows? He might not even be the best out there. There’s Dialed In and there’s To Honor and Serve, a colt who looked terrific when winning the Nashua and Remsen last year. He’s likely to resurface in the Fountain of Youth.
There’s more. Comma To The Top is an overachiever that has won everything in California and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Bob Baffert has a horse named The Factor who broke his maiden by 8 ¼ lengths, running six furlongs in 1:06.80, albeit on the paved highway that has been Santa Anita. If not for Uncle Mo, Boys At Toscanova would be an undefeated champion, though his absence from the Holy Bull raises red flags about his future. Brethren, a half-brother to Super Saver, is 2 for 2 and an interesting prospect.
The familiar refrain, that this is a bad group, should never be uttered this year. With Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta drawing so many headlines and winning so many races and with Mine That Bird and Super Saver going a combined 0 for 12 since their Derby wins, it’s been the era of the fillies. Not this year. The 3-year-old (boys) are back.
From DRF.com by Mike Welsch…
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – For the most part, the Grade 3 Holy Bull has simply been regarded as the first step on the road to both the Florida Derby and ultimately Kentucky Derby for 3-year-olds stabled in south Florida each year. And while the one-mile Holy Bull remains the first of the local Derby preps, its status has dramatically changed due to a purse increase, up from $150,000 to $400,000 this winter, which basically turns the race into a win and you’re in event for the Kentucky Derby.
Eight of the nine 3-year-olds entered for this year’s Holy Bull will avail themselves of the opportunity to pick up enough graded stakes money – $240,000 to be exact – to qualify for the Kentucky Derby with a victory Saturday. The ninth, Gourmet Dinner, already has punched his ticket to Churchill Downs by virtue of his victory in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot at 2.
Gourmet Dinner will be the second choice on the morning line behind Mucho Macho Man, a grand-looking son of Macho Uno who closed out his 2-year-old campaign finishing second behind To Honor and Serve in both the Grade 2 Nashua and Remsen. The 99 Beyer Speed Figure that Mucho Macho Man earned for the Remsen is easily the highest posted by any member of the Holy Bull field.
Mucho Macho Man has been training forwardly for his 3-year-old bow since returning from New York nearly two months ago. He capped off a series of bullet works by zipping five furlongs in 59 seconds on Sunday under regular rider Eibar Coa.
“He couldn’t be doing any better,” said Kathy Ritvo, who took over the training of Mucho Macho Man after her husband Tim was appointed vice president of racing at Gulfstream shortly before the Nashua. “I don’t think I could have him any sharper and I’m very confident he’s going to go out and run his race. I’m not sure a mile is really a comfortable distance for him but he always breaks sharp and is quick enough to sit close.”
Ritvo said naturally it would be great if Mucho Macho Man could win Saturday and add to the $70,000 in graded earnings that he has already accrued for his second-place finishes in the Remsen and Nashua.
“It would be perfect if we could get the job done and not have to worry about money the rest of the way,” Ritvo said.
Mucho Macho Man, who will start from post 7, fared a lot better at the draw for the Holy Bull than Gourmet Dinner, who will break from the rail out of the one-mile chute. He began his journey from the same post when capturing the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot by 2 1/4 lengths on Nov. 20. The son of Trippi closed his 2-year-old campaign by finishing fourth after a wide trip over the synthetic surface in Hollywood Park’s CashCall Futurity.
“Obviously, I’d rather be more outside, but going a one-turn mile I don’t think the post will make much difference,” said Steve Standridge, who trains Gourmet Dinner for owner-breeder William Terrill. “He comes from behind anyway, and I think by the time they get to the turn he’ll be in the position he wants to be.”
Standridge said even though Gourmet Dinner has more than enough earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, he has been training so well that there was never much of a question about holding him out of the Holy Bull.
“He’s an iron horse, he loves to train,” Standridge said. “He’ll hurt himself if you don’t let him. He’s coming into this race in really good shape, and I wouldn’t change places with anybody right now.”
The remainder of the Holy Bull field is a good one and includes Black N Beauty and Printing Press, first and second, respectively, in a one-mile allowance race here earlier this month; Major Gain, third, beaten a half-length by Santiva, in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Cup to close out his 2-year-old campaign; Leave of Absence, runner-up in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid here opening weekend; Sweet Ducky, a multiple stakes winner who finished fourth in the Delta Jackpot; the undefeated Dialed In; and graded stakes placed Ribo Bobo.
Dialed In may be the biggest question mark in the field, having turned in an extremely impressive performance when overcoming a rough trip to win his debut last fall going 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs. Trainer Nick Zito had hoped to open Dialed In’s 3-year-old campaign in a 1 1/8-mile allowance event nine days earlier but opted to scratch out of the race due to a sloppy track.
The Holy Bull is also one of the qualifying races for the Preakness 5.5, a series which offers a $5.5 million bonus for winning two 3-year-old preps at MID tracks, including the Florida or Santa Anita derby, and the Preakness.