Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Team Valor, and partners’ Hull became a graded stakes winner and stayed undefeated in three starts when he took over at the top of the lane and pulled away for a convincing four-length victory in the $112,00 Derby Trial (gr. III) (VIDEO) on opening day at Churchill Downs April 25.
Unraced as a juvenile, Hull was making his stakes debut in the 7 1/2-furlong Derby Trial, which returned to graded status for the first time since 2004. The son of Holy Bull is trained by Dale Romans, who said after the race the Preakness (gr. I) could be next.
Ridden by Miguel Mena, Hull received a nice stalking trip in back of Checklist, who sizzled through an opening quarter in :21.78, and post time favorite Silver City, who led after an aggressive half-mile in :44.29. Those three were in a line as they came off the turn.
Coming three-wide, Hull took over as they straightened away, led by 1 1/2 lengths at the eighth-pole, and widened his advantage in the stretch. The dark bay or brown colt hit the wire in 1:30.21 on a track labeled "fast."
Kensei, far back in the early going, made a big move around the turn and finished well to get second under Robby Albarado, a half-length better than Checklist who remained along the rail. Rendezvous finished fourth in a field of eight 3-year-olds.
Hull, an $82,000 2-year-old purchase, began his career with a 4 1/4-length maiden special weight score Feb. 7 at Fair Grounds. Last time out, he romped by 7 3/4 lengths in a 6 1/2-furlong optional claimer April 2 on the Turfway Park Polytrack. Romans entered him in the April 18 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, but scratched out of that race in favor of the Derby Trail.
“I loved what I saw out there today," Romans said of Hull. "He relaxed off the pace and when the rider asked him to run, he really exploded. He’s as good as anybody around right now. He’s opened up in all three of his races. We entered in the Lexington but we had this race as our backup. Everything had to be perfect if he ran in (the Lexington), because he was coming back so soon after the Turfway race. And when he drew post 12, we didn’t hesitate to scratch him and point for this.
"We’ll take a look and see what happens in the (Kentucky) Derby, who goes on from there and who doesn’t. The Preakness is a possibility for him right now.”
Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Clinkinbeard, Hull is out of the Chimes Band mare Band Queen. He has earned $107,800 for Heiligbrodt, Gary Barber, and Team Valor International.
The winner paid $8.80, $5.40, and $4.40. The exacta (7-8) returned $84 and the trifecta (7-8-4) was worth $1,223.40.
Silver City finished fifth, followed by Gato Go Win, Santana Six, and Tintim Por Tintim.