The Road Ahead For Top Holy Bull Finishers

From Gulfstream Park
The grade 1 Fountain of Youth, to be run February 17 as the last major prep for the $1 million Florida Derby March 10, is the next scheduled stop on the agenda for grade 3 Holy Bull winner Radical Riley.

That was the objective stated by trainer James Hatchett in the winner's circle immediately following Radical Riley's head tally in the Holy Bull on Saturday, and confirmed Sunday by owner Jane Brei, speaking from Ocala where she operates Jacks Or Better Farm along with husband Fred Brei (rhymes with rye.)

"Racing is only part of our business," said Jane Brei of the Jacks Or Better operation where Radical Riley was foaled. "Right now is foaling season, so we were unable to be there (for the Holy Bull). We went over to (Ocala) Jai Alai and watched the race."

Asked if they did a lot of cheering, Brei said: "I'm sure the other people there had no trouble figuring out that we were the owners." Being breeders as well as owners, Jane Brei was asked if Radical Riley was for sale or if they'd continue to race him.

"Everything is for sale at the right price," she said. "I haven't thought about it, and don't know if my husband and Jimmy (trainer Hatchett) have even thought about it enough to have a figure in mind. I'm a farm girl from Iowa. These are my babies. I've told my husband before: 'You make the business decisions, I'll just stand by with a Kleenex handy.'"

Buckle Down Ben, second beaten a head in the Holy Bull, will make his next start here in either the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. 1) on Feb. 17 or the $500,000 Florida Derby (gr. 1) on March 10.

"He ran an excellent race in the Holy Bull," said Lillian Altieri, who handles the horses locally for trainer Steve Klesaris. "More importantly, he came out of the race in great shape and now we'll either run him in the Fountain of Youth Stakes or the Florida Derby. The Fountain of Youth comes up a bit soon and it would mean three hard races in a short period of time. Our main objective from the start has been the Florida Derby. We'll play it by ear and see."

Buckle Down Ben, winner of the Laurel Futurity (gr. III) on Nov. 4, was making his first start since finishing third in the Remsen Stakes on Nov. 25 when he started in the Holy Bull. The dark bay or brown colt made a bold move along the inside on the stretch turn to gain the lead, fought back when challenged in the stretch by Radical Riley and lost by a head in the final yards.

"John (jockey John Velazquez) said after the race that he moved him (Buckle Down Ben) too soon," Altieri said. "They were on the inside and he didn't want to get trapped down in there so he made his move on the turn. Buckle Down Ben is a big horse and he's the kind of horse that can't have his run compromised. But he fought back when that other horse caught him. He ran a big race."

Cee Dee, who rallied to finish a close-up third, beaten a half- length, in the Holy Bull, also earned a prospective berth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

"He ran a big race on Saturday," trainer Tim Hamm said. "He had to steady and was angled to the outside on the far turn. Then he lost ground by racing wide into the stretch and he ran gamely through the stretch. We really liked his effort. He came out of the race in fine shape and our plans now are to run him in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and if he runs well then run him back in the Florida Derby."

Songandaprayer entered Saturday's Holy Bull Stakes with a lot of hype and, though the unbeaten colt finished a tiring fifth, he will get a chance to redeem himself in the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

"We're definitely going to run him back in the Fountain of Youth," trainer John Dowd said of the $1 million colt who is owned by former basketball player Bob Hurley and the D J Stable (Ellen and Leonard Green).

Songandaprayer, winner of the Huntingdon Stakes in his previous start at Aqueduct on Nov. 26, was hard used in an early pace duel with Drumcliff going in fractions of :22 2/5, :45 4/5 and 1:12 1/5. After putting away Drumcliff, Songandaprayer fought back gamely when passed by Buckle Down Ben on the stretch turn and didn't really begin to fade until the final sixteenth.

"He was so sharp he couldn't settle early," Dowd said. "The jockey had trouble rating him but he continued on gamely when he lost the lead on the final turn and just got tired in the deep stretch. It was his first time going around two turns and his first race in almost two months. We thought it was a good try and we'll give him another chance in the Fountain of Youth."