Undefeated Songandaprayer Stretches Out in Holy Bull

From Gulfstream Park
Songandaprayer, the $1 million unbeaten colt that is owned by former basketball star Bobby Hurley, is running in Saturday's $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile test is the first two-turn race of the Florida Derby (gr. I) series.

Songandaprayer has started twice in his career for trainer John Dowd. He broke his maiden with much ballyhoo when he won a five-furlong race at Monmouth Park on June 15. The bay colt underwent surgery to remove chips and came back to win the six furlong Huntington Stakes in the slop at Aqueduct on Nov. 26 in his last start.

"He's done what we asked of him so far and now we're asking him to stretch out and go around two turns in the Holy Bull on Saturday," Dowd said.

Hurley, whose basketball career was cut short by an automobile accident, owns 85 percent of Songandaprayer while DJ Stable, a longtime Dowd client, owns the remaining 15 percent. Hurley is in town to see Songandaprayer run and was caught on the end of a shank, walking his colt on Wednesday morning in Barn 15.

"I owned a couple of claiming horses previously," he said. "But not a horse like Songandaprayer and I think we're going to have some fun with him. I'm really looking forward to see how he runs on Saturday."

Dowd had Songandaprayer on the track for a workout at Gulfstream last Thursday and the colt went seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5 handily with jockey Pat Day aboard.

"I was very happy with the workout," Dowd said, "because Pat Day was happy with the work and you always like to hear that from a rider. He galloped him out a mile and I got it in 1:38 and change. That was his last workout, he's fit enough. I'm just giving him maintenance gallops until the race."

Dowd also has two other 3-year-olds for Hurley in his barn that he is high on, the stakes-winning colt Shooter, and the lightly raced filly Astrid.

"We paid $170,000 for Shooter at the Ocala Breeders Sales at Calder last February and he won his first two starts, including the Sapling Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park last summer. We found a small chip in his right front ankle after he ran in the Belmont Futurity (fifth place finish on Sept. 17) and gave him some time off.

"He worked a half-mile in :51 2/5 this morning." Dowd said. The race I'm pointing him towards at this time is that stakes near the end of the meeting, the Swale Stakes (grade I, $150,000, seven furlongs, on March 10)."

By comparison, Astrid was an inexpensive purchase when compared to her stablemates. She only cost a paltry $20,000. The daughter of Concern won her debut at Monmouth in late July then was fifth in the Sorority Stakes (G3) at the New Jersey track on August 12.

"I worked Astrid three furlongs last Wednesday," Dowd said. "She went an easy :37 1/5. I'll probably run her in an allowance race before I try her in stakes company again."

Silver Challange, also being pointed for the Holy Bull Saturday, breezed five-eighths of a mile in 1:02 1/5 Monday at Calder.

"This will be his first time around two turns on the main track, but we're hoping his breeding will allow us to stretch him out," said trainer Laura Posada.

Silver Challange was placed first in his last start after being bumped and steadied late to finish second under the wire. Before that the gray Silver Buck colt was an unimpressive sixth in a mile event run over the grass course.

"He shows signs of being a nice horse and we're very pleased with him," said Posada. "He's very professional and does everything right. This race will be a test for him, but if he's not up to it we'll go back to one-turn races and allowance conditions."

Airy Hill, who finished fourth in the grade II Remsen at Aqueduct after racing wide throughout, remains on schedule to make his seasonal bow in the Holy Bull.

"Yes, he's going," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "He's been doing well and we have Jerry Bailey named to ride."

However, Invisible Ink, Pletcher's other nominee to the Holy Bull, is not an expected starter. The entire son of Thunder Gulch won his first start of the year over the local surface in allowance company despite racing wide.

"I'm not sure when his next start will be," said Pletcher. "Probably either in an allowance race or the Fountain of Youth."

The grade I Fountain of Youth, also at a mile and a sixteenth, will be contested February 17.