Updated on 01/20/2014 3:13PM

Holy Bull Stakes: Coup de Grace set for two-turn test

Coglianese Photos
Coup de Grace will stretch to two turns for Saturday's Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – The campaign that Coup de Grace will have in the next few months will be determined by how he performs Saturday in the Grade 2, $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Unbeaten in two starts, Coup de Grace will be making his first start around two turns in the Holy Bull. His aptitude at this endeavor will chart his course.

“I could see it going either way, but we have to try it,” said Chad Brown, who trains Coup de Grace. “To try the Kentucky Derby trail, you’ve got to try two turns, and he’s got the pedigree to suggest he can get two turns.”

Coup de Grace, a son of Tapit, completed his serious preparation for the Holy Bull on Sunday morning here at the Palm Meadows training center when he worked a half-mile in 47.40 seconds under John Velazquez, who will ride him for the first time Saturday. The time equaled the fastest of 50 at the distance Sunday.

“I thought he worked well,” Brown said. “He can be a little strong going to the pole. With the cooler weather, he’s feeling good. He’s coming into the race in good shape.”

Velazquez picked up the mount because Javier Castellano, who rode Coup de Grace in his first two starts, opted to ride Wicked Strong in the Holy Bull.

Coup de Grace will break from the rail in a field of 11 3-year-olds that was drawn Monday for the Holy Bull, which was upgraded to a Grade 2 this year. The rest of the field, in post position order, includes Financial Mogul (Jose Ortiz), Best Plan Yet (Edgard Zayas), Almost Famous (Calvin Borel), Our Caravan (Corey Lanerie), Mr Speaker (Jose Lezcano), Cairo Prince (Luis Saez), Wicked Strong (Javier Castellano), Conquest Titan (Shaun Bridgmohan), Big Bazinga (Joe Bravo), and Intense Holiday (Joel Rosario).

“With 10 or more, you worry about the post, with a short run to the first turn,” said Kiaran McLaughlin who trains Cairo Prince, the likely favorite who will break from post 7.

The Holy Bull is run at 1 1/16 miles, so it ends at a secondary finish line that is earlier in the stretch at Gulfstream than the regular finish line, making the stretch run more abrupt than a 1 1/8-mile race like the Florida Derby.

Cairo Prince worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds at Palm Meadows on Sunday.

“He had a couple of works of 59 and change, so we wanted to go a little easier this time, and he went perfect,” McLaughlin said.

Almost Famous (four furlongs, 48.40), Intense Holiday (four furlongs, 49.05), and Wicked Strong (five furlongs, 1:00.90) also worked at Palm Meadows on Sunday.

Farther north, at the Payson Park training center on Sunday, Mr Speaker worked a half-mile in 49.10.

The Holy Bull is worth 10 points to the winner – with point values of 4, 2, and 1 for the next three spots – on the point system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the May 3 Kentucky Derby should the field have more than the maximum 20 runners entered.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch

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Bryan Horn More than 1 year ago
Conquest Titan ran a fast mile in his last race, running like a freight train into a hot pace. A lot of speed here, could set up well for this son of Birdstone. I like a horse like this for the Derby: bred to run all day and bred to catch hot paces. The Derby tends to have a hot pace and be won by a closer; the "best" horse or horse that is bred for traditional distances wins the Preakness and the Belmont tends to be won by late bloomers with a great cruising speed. Cairo Prince or Almost Famous may win the battle this weekend but horses like Conquest Titan and Wicked Strong may be great prices with left shots in the Derby.
Bryan Horn More than 1 year ago
"live shots"
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
it doesnt look like pletcher has a barn full of monster yougsters like recent years. im sure hes going make some noise but i havent seen any of his newly turned 3yos look like men amoung boys at this time of year
dameian ramsay More than 1 year ago
I angry. Last yr a he had a monster lineup .
Mark More than 1 year ago
Constitution Commissioner Havana Harpoon Monopolize ......
Mark More than 1 year ago
Betterto look like men in 3 months from now :)
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
you mite be rite and they could very well win every prep race and evrything else. im saying the past few years he had 3yo that were winning race at gulfstream by 15 and 20 lengths easy. generally at this time of year people are picking wich pletcher horse will win the triple crown and at this point the was that have won look to be a few steps better and he has some tapits they havent amounted to much with other trainers as far as the triple crown
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Maybe he has finally figured it out and learned to hold off a little bit. His horses peak way too soon.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
Interesting race...I can fully understand Castellano's defection to Wicked Strong, but I think he may have made a questionable decision. I realize that the Remsen was characterized by a very slow pace, but finishing that last furlong in just over 11 seconds may look impressive but it will prove to be detrimental. I don't expect the same performance from Wicked Strong this out. Very competitive field indeed. Good luck to anyone trying to sort it out. If I had to pick one...not that I am playing because I am not...I would be leaning toward Calvin Borel on Almost Famous...
Mark More than 1 year ago
Lefty More than 1 year ago
I am a bit surprised that Shuggy Baby will not run Top Billing here. Honor Code Ran won't be running till the Fountain of Ute! As for the Horses that ARE running in this race, I wish them all luck Saw the Smarty Jones today and those horses looked ok 1:12 for 6 furlongs isn't bad, but it isn't great either.
Jd Staton More than 1 year ago
seems shug takes a round about route to the derby prep races. doesnt want to look like every other trainer with a 3 yo having derby fever from the get go. he wants to run horses in the preps that belong there and he feels have a good chance. not just throw it against the wall and see if it sticks
jttf More than 1 year ago
pretty tough to go against pletcher during this time of year. but beware of the water trucks turning the race into a tomlinson factor.
Jonas More than 1 year ago
If Cairo Prince breaks well and is within 2 lengths of the lead or on the front he will probably win.He was giving Honor Code 6lbs in the last and he hasnt lost a step since changing locations to South Florida. PS I dont see anyone beating him if they run together the whole stretch it will take something unusual to beat him in this one.He is the NOW HORSE.
Jim Tully More than 1 year ago
who's the three-and-a-half-months-from-now horse.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Nice 1 1/16 allowance on the undercard also .
LEWIS THE CAT More than 1 year ago
Intense Holiday will win the Holy Bull