04/08/2008 12:00AM

Hey Byrn confirmed for Holy Bull


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Hey Byrn will get one last opportunity to earn enough graded money to get into the Kentucky Derby field when he starts as the odds-on favorite in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes. The winner receives $90,000.

Hey Byrn has $50,000 in graded earnings, picked up for his fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 29. Even with a victory in the Holy Bull, Hey Byrn would not be assured of being one of the top 20 graded money earners pointing for the Kentucky Derby. Graded earnings is the tie-breaker should more than 20 horses enter the Derby.

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said the prospect of perhaps qualifying to run in the Kentucky Derby was not the determining factor in his decision to start Hey Byrn in the 1 3/16-mile Holy Bull.

"His energy level coming out of the Florida Derby is 100 percent, we're here, and it's going to be a short field," Plesa said Monday. "And it makes sense for us to take advantage of the situation."

Plesa said that if Hey Byrn, who is owned by Bea Oxenberg, were to win the Holy Bull and have enough graded earnings to get into the Derby, that in all likelihood they would go.

"Our main concern is that we have a quality 3-year-old that we believe in, and Bea would like to see the horse run here Saturday given the opportunity," said Plesa. "She's also been in the business a very long time, and if she has the chance to run a horse in the Kentucky Derby, then why not? If he can get in, I expect we'll be there."

Plesa said Chuck Lopez will ride Hey Byrn in the Holy Bull.

A field of only five 3-year-olds seems likely for the Holy Bull. Other probables include Dream Maestro, Chief Bear, Famous Patriot, and Web Gem. Hey Byrn is the only member of the prospective lineup with more than one victory or any graded earnings.

Famous Patriot and Chief Bear had their final workouts for the Holy Bull on Tuesday. Famous Patriot went a half-mile in 48.60 seconds at Gulfstream, while Chief Bear breezed the same distance in 49.20 seconds at Palm Meadows.

Mambo Meister drops out

Mambo Meister was slated to join the Holy Bull field, but after working a half-mile in a blistering 46.80 seconds at Gulfstream on Tuesday morning he was found to have a lung infection and will pass the race.

"He had a beautiful work, but when we scoped him afterwards we discovered a lung infection, so unfortunately he won't be able to run," said trainer Phil Gleaves. "Naturally it's a big disappointment, because we thought this was a good spot for him."

Gleaves said he was uncertain when Mambo Meister might return.

"I'd like to try to make the Calder Derby with him, but that's in only two weeks, which might be a little quick," said Gleaves.

Samba Rooster had also been listed as a possible starter for the Holy Bull, but was withdrawn from consideration after being sold privately earlier in the week, according to trainer Marty Wolfson.

Pletcher, Catalano in tight race

Todd Pletcher gained the lead in the trainer standings over Wayne Catalano after sending out Limkin to win Sunday's sixth race. He leads Catalano 25-24 going into Thursday's races. Pletcher has won the last four Gulfstream trainer titles.

Catalano, who returned to his summer base in Chicago on Monday, said he isn't giving up on winning the title.

"By any standard we've had a very good meet, even if we don't win the title," he said. "We didn't even think about being in this position when the meet began, because we don't have the numbers, but now that we're at this point it's a little different. You have to think about it. We do have some yet to run."

* Jorge Chavez moved into sixth place in the jockey standings after booting home three of trainer Joe Orseno's five winners on Monday's card. Chavez, a four-time Gulfstream Park riding champion, will leave town and return to New York following Friday's program.

* Cruden Bay and Ode to Roy will renew acquaintances when they top a field of eight in Thursday's $41,000 allowance feature. Ode to Roy and Cruden Bay finished second and third, 1 3/4 lengths apart, behind Port Royal under similar allowance conditions on Feb. 23.