Lally Stable's Saratoga Sinner, shadowing pacesetter Bear's Rocket from the start, took control in the final furlong to post a 12-1 upset in the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 31.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux for Lally Stable and trainer Eddie Kenneally, Saratoga Sinner defeated Bear's Rocket while fully exended by three quarters of a length in the 1 1/8-mile event for 3-year-olds. West Side Bernie, the second choice in the field of 10, edged Beethoven for third, 3 3/4 lengths behind Saratoga Sinner. The winning time was 1:51.45. The Holy Bull was Saratoga Sinner's first start against winners.
Favored Danger to Society, stuck between horses behind the first two down the backstretch, dropped out of contention for Robby Albarado early on the far turn. Unbeaten in two previous starts, Danger to Society finished seventh at 9-5.
Canadian invader Bear's Rocket, a 33-1 shot ridden by Kent Desormeaux, took command after breaking well and carved out all the fractions -- :23.62, :47.88, and 1:12.73 -- with Saratoga Sinner about a length behind. And that's the way things stayed until Saratoga Sinner turned up the pressure at the top of the lane.
The son of 2002 Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Harlan's Holiday gained a short advantage mid-stretch and maintained it to the wire under urging from Leparoux.
"I just tried to stay with Kent (Desormeaux on Bear’s Rocket)) the whole time and not lose (touch of him)," Leparoux said. "We didn’t have a lot of room. We got some around the three-eighths pole, but Kent got an excellent ride from his horse and made it real tough. I was just trying to stay in good position. It worked out at the end for all of us.”
Beethoven, who broke from the far outside for Calvin Borel and was stuck widest of all on the first turn, moved into contention in third after a half-mile but after pressuring on the turn, flattened out a bit as Bear's Rocket and Saratoga Sinner went on with it. West Side Bernie, with Elvis Trujillo aboard, emerged on the outside to eventually claim the show spot.
“It was good for him," Borel said of Beethoven's effort. "He needed this race. "He got a little tired at the end, but he came back okay.”
A $130,000 Keeneland September yearling sal purchase in 2007, Saratoga Sinner made his debut at Gulfstream Park Jan. 7 when he broke his maiden in his third lifetime start, tallying at nine furlongs by 1 1/2 lengths as the favorite. The bay colt began his career at Keeneland Oct. 17, finishing fifth on the Polytrack, and then ran third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Danger to Society, at Churchill Downs Jan. 7.
“After he broke his maiden in his last race, Julien came back and said he’s even better than he showed," Kenneally said. "He ran a little green that day. So we decided that we go ahead and step him up to this race rather than run back in an allowance race. He’s had two wins over the track at 1 1/8 miles, so we’ll definitely be pointing for the Florida Derby (gr. I, Mar. 28). I don’t know if he’ll run again before then, but he won’t go back to a one-turn race again.”
Saratoga' Sinner's second lifetime win was worth $90,000 and increased his earnings to $116,495. Brereton C. Jones bred the winner, who is out of the Slew City Slew mare Naughty Linda, in Kentucky.
The winning payoff was $28.20 $14.20, and $7.40.
Stakes-placed Bear's Rocket, making his first start away from Woodbine for trainer Reade Baker, returned $27.80 and $11.40, rounding out an excellent $2 exacta of $580.80.
"I thought he ran a super race," Baker said of the runner-up. "We have another horse, Bear’s Prospector, who was just second to the winner. We’re down here to get to the (Kentucky) Derby and now it looks like we have two good ones. I’d like to wait to run him back in the Florida Derby, but that will be up to the owner (Danny Dion).”
West Side Bernie, winner of the Kentucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) last September, was $3.60 to show.
“I wish I knew what happened," Albarado said of Danger to Society. "He had some adversity early. He got behind horses. He was clear at the three-eighths pole and he just had no response.”