The undefeated Barbaro showed himself to be one of the most exciting prospects for this year's Triple Crown series Saturday when he handled a sloppy strip to win the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) by three-quarters of a length in his first main track attempt at Gulfstream Park.
Barbaro's three previous wins for trainer Michael Matz and owner Lael Stables came on the turf, including a 3 3/4-length triumph in the Tropical Park Derby (gr. IIIT) on the Calder grass Jan. 1.
Edgar Prado had Barbaro nearly three lengths in the clear in mid-stretch and the son of Dynaformer
kept driving to defeat the deep-closing Great Point, who drew into the field of 12 for trainer Nick Zito and ran superbly to take the place spot by 2 1/2 lengths over My Golden Song. The final time was 1:49 1/5 for the 1 1/8-mile event. The Holy Bull was previously contested at 1 1/16 miles.
"When he saw the lights (at finish line), he switched leads, but he was never in trouble," Matz said. "God willing, he comes out of the race good, and since we're here in Florida, I suppose we'll look a either the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) or the Florida Derby (gr. I), or possibly both. We'll let him tell us."
Barbaro, who won the Laurel Futurity on the lawn in November, pushed his earnings to $249,000.
The 8-5 favorite broke alertly and tracked Doctor Dechard through quick fractions of :23, :46 1/5 and 1:10 1/5. Barbaro stuck his head in front at the top of the stretch but had to battle to put away Doctor Dechard and Flashy Bull as Great Point and My Golden Song ranged into contention.
"He broke running and I had a lot of horse under me the whole way," Prado said. "I turned him loose and he just opened up. He was looking for some competition in the stretch. He saw (Great Point) on his outside, but I wasn't ever worried. He proved today he could go either way (turf or dirt)."
Mr. and Mrs. Roy Jackson bred the dark bay, who is out of the Carson City mare La Ville Rouge, in Kentucky.
Barbaro paid $5.20, $4.20 and $3.80. Great Point, ridden by Jeremy Rose, returned $14.40 and $9.40. My Golden Song, John Velazquez aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher, was $6.40 to show.
Flashy Bull finished fourth, followed by Itsallaboutthechase, Doctor Dechard, Sunriver, Fagan's Legacy, Saint Augustus, Big Lover, Hemingway's Key and Park Avenue Prince.