02/01/2016 2:13PM

Road to the Derby analysis: Holy Bull Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Mohaymen and jockey Junior Alvarado win the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes by 3 1/2 lengths.

Grade 2, $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Gulfstream Park, Jan. 30, 2016
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

Winner: Mohaymen (sire: Tapit)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Owner: Shadwell Stable
Beyer Speed Figure: 95

MOHAYMEN picked right up at 3 where he left off at 2, with another victory, this perhaps the most impressive of his four-race career. He is clearly the top-ranked Kentucky Derby prospect on the East Coast, and until male 2-year-old champion Nyquist makes his first start at age 3 later this month, a case can be made that Mohaymen is the top-ranked Derby contender, period.

I liked Mohaymen’s race in the Remsen Stakes quite a bit, and the Holy Bull did nothing to dilute my keen interest in him. He has enough tactical speed to get a good early position, and he knows how to finish off a race.

In the Holy Bull, Mohaymen seemed to break half a step slowly, but he quickly got going and went into the first turn along the rail in third behind two leaders – PERFECT SAINT and GREENPOINTCRUSADER – who were setting a very moderate pace. He split those two down the backstretch, and after Perfect Saint dropped away before the far turn, he raced with Greenpointcrusader into and around the far turn. He had a narrow lead heading into the lane, switched leads on cue, then drew clear without being asked one bit by Alvarado.

As impressive as the race was visually, consider too that Mohaymen moved into the teeth of slow fractions with a third quarter in 23.46 seconds and a fourth quarter in 23.52 seconds, for a second half-mile in 46.98 seconds. It’s going to be tough for any other 3-year-old to match that kind of acceleration going two turns. He’s the goods.

Greenpointcrusader, who finished second, broke alertly and raced around the first turn just outside of Perfect Saint while under restraint. He put his head in front of Perfect Saint midway down the backstretch, then was engaged by Mohaymen. He went with Mohaymen through that fast third quarter, began to lose ground entering the lane, was encouraged to keep up, but could not, though he held second. This was a good race, but I’m still not convinced he’s going to improve with more distance. Until proven otherwise, I’m taking the position that he would prefer to make one run around one turn.

FELLOWSHIP, who rallied for third, had no early speed and trailed early while racing inside, went around Perfect Saint on the backstretch, but then ducked back to the rail on the far turn, angled off the inside entering the lane, was no match for the top two, but showed some grit to put away CONQUEST BIG E in the final furlong. This was by far his best race yet.

Conquest Big E, who was fourth, was jostled a bit leaving the gate, was in front of only Fellowship around the first turn, raced three paths wide on the far turn, appeared to be going better than Fellowship nearing the head of the stretch, but had nothing to offer in the final furlong. His barn believes he can do better based on the way he trains, but he’s been a cut below in his two tries against top-class company.

FRONTIER RANGER, who was fifth, raced outside of Mohaymen around the first turn. He began to be outrun when Mohaymen and Greenpointcrusader quickened noticeably in the third quarter of the race, was engulfed by Fellowship and Conquest Big E on the far turn, had no response, and raced on his wrong lead through the stretch.

Perfect Saint, who was last of six, broke best of all, led narrowly from Greenpointcrusader into the backstretch, but began a steady fade once Mohaymen and Greenpointcrusader began their elongated, midrace sprint. He needs much easier company.

Felton Suthon More than 1 year ago
Considering a 46.78 1/2 to mile did in American Pharaoh, that 46.98 is pretty impressive. What happened to the GP track on 2015 Florida Derby day?
TomPHickey More than 1 year ago
Have to remember that was a 1 1/16not 1 1/4 on a tiring track like Saratoga. A much longer race on a more tiring track. Really no comparison.
Gene Martin More than 1 year ago
Shouldn't Mohaymen 's pedigree be included somewhere in the article or synopsis??? We are talking about Kentucky Derby implications...
Roger More than 1 year ago
Mohaymen's pedigree doesn't suggest a classic distance. Greenpointcrusader should be able to stay a longer distance. I liked the way Greenpointcrusader looked on the track and I was very happy with his race. If you watch how both horses were striding out in the stretch...I will take Greenpointcrusader's long strides over Mohaymen's short choppy strideswhen I'm looking for the Derby winner. Greenpointcrusader found himself in a positionin this race he had never encountered previously whereas Mohaymen ran the exact race he had run in all his previous races. Greenpointcrusader also raced wide and covered more distance than the winner. Tonalist was my Derby selection 2 yrs ago...a pick I made when he was a maiden but I would never take another Tapit as I am of the opinion that 1-1/16 mile is the optium distance for Tapits. I never considered Frosted a serious player last year. For my money Greenpointcrusader is still the leading conrtender to win this year's Kentucky Derby.
Frank More than 1 year ago
The horse was built for the classic distance -- you watch. AP and California Chrome both were not bred for classic distances either....
VICTOR More than 1 year ago
Remsen winners, history at yum brands ??
john g More than 1 year ago
Mohaymen is the most impressive Derby prep winner yet to race. I've seen nothing yet to come close.His quick turn of foot is helpful in establishing good position, and he seems to relax until he needs to accelerate and finish off the race, and does so effortlessly. It didn't seem he was anywhere near the bottom, and made it look easy. I know it's way too early, and lots can happen, and usually does. But, for now, I see nobody even close.I love this time of year!