All eyes will be on juvenile champion Hansen Jan. 29 as he begins his much-anticipated Triple Crown quest in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park.
Hansen, who completed his 2-year-old campaign undefeated in three starts for trainer Mike Maker, faces five opponents in the one-turn mile event. The front-running gray/roan son of Tapit out of the Sir Cat mare Stormy Sunday makes his first start since he outlasted Union Rags by a head in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
The Holy Bull is the 10th race on the Gulfstream program with a probable post time of 4:45 p.m. EST. It follows the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs.
Owned by his Kentucky breeder Dr. Kendall Hansen along with Sky Chai Racing, Hansen will be making his first start at Gulfstream. He has been in training at the track for just over one month, recording five published workouts during that time. Working in company, he drilled five furlongs in :59 4/5 in his most recent clocking Jan. 22. It was the third-fastest of 40 at the distance that day.
“We’ve had no bumps in the road,” Maker said after the workout. “Hopefully, that trend continues."
Hansen has not been headed in his three races thus far. He started his career with two victories over Polytrack at Turfway Park last September by a combined margin of 25 1/2 lengths. His maiden special weight debut was at 5 1/2 furlongs Sept. 9, followed by a romp in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Cup Juvenile 15 days later.
In the BC Juvenile, he set reasonable fractions while in control at odds of 7-1, then had something left for the drive as the heavily favored Union Rags put in a strong late charge.
Eclipse Award-winning jockey Ramon Dominguez, who rode Hansen for the first time in the Breeders' Cup, will be aboard in the Holy Bull. Hansen will break from post 4 under top weight of 122 pounds.
On the far outside is Starlight Racing's undefeated Algorithms , who gets a class test after winning his first two starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. The $170,000 Keeneland September yearling is a son of Bernardini out of the stakes-placed Cryptoclearance mare Ava Knowsthecode. He is a half-brother to graded stakes winners Justin Phillip and Successful Mission.
Algorithms, who will be ridden by Javier Castellano, broke his maiden in June by 5 1/4 lengths. He returned at Gulfstream Dec. 16 in an optional claiming race at 6 1/2 furlongs and prevailed with a late rally by one length. He is the only entrant in the Holy Bull to have won over the Gulfstream main track.
“He’s trained very well,” Pletcher said. “His first two races have been excellent, he’s bred to stretch out and we’re optimistic he’s a top-level colt.”
Jacks or Better Farm's homebred Fort Loudon also comes in the Holy Bull after last racing in the BC Juvenile. He finished seventh at odds of 54-1, tiring after stalking the pace on the outside early. A son of Awesome Of Course trained by Stanley Gold, Fort Loudon swept the three-race Florida Stallion Series prior to that. During the season he won four of eight starts with two thirds. Rajiv Maragh will be aboard the bay colt for the first time, and they will break from post 5.
My Adonis, from the Kelly Breen stable for owners Lori and George Hall, won the Jean Lafitte Stakes impressively at Delta Downs last October. He disappointed with a ninth-place finish in the Delta Jackpot (gr. III) in his most recent try Nov. 19, however. Elvis Trujillo retains the mount.
Rounding out the field is recent maiden turf winner Silver Max, never worse than second in six races for Dale Romans, and Consortium, also a maiden winner who was second to Algorithms in his most recent start while sent off as the 4-5 choice. Silver Max, who drew the rail, is likely to apply the most pressure on Hansen for the early lead.
$400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 4:45 p.m.), 3YOs, 1 Mile
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Silver Max (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, D L Romans
2. Consortium (KY), J R Velazquez, 116, K P McLaughlin
3. My Adonis (KY), E Trujillo, 120, K J Breen
4. Hansen (KY), R A Dominguez, 122, M J Maker
5. Fort Loudon (FL), R Maragh, 120, S I Gold
6. Algorithms (KY), J Castellano, 116, T A Pletcher