One of the top Kentucky Derby prospects will be in action on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. Tiz the Law, the winner of last year’s Grade 1 Champagne, makes his 3-year-old debut here and will be sent off as the prohibitive favorite. Only one of his competitors has won so much as a stakes race, and that was a minor event for Louisiana-breds, so the favorite has a significant class edge over this field.
TIZ THE LAW (#3) showed star potential right from the start, as he dazzled the crowd at Saratoga with his facile maiden score, beating subsequent stakes winner Dream Bigger with ease while drawing nearly 20 lengths clear of the third-place finisher. He basically duplicated that effort next time out despite having to stretch out to a mile for the first time and moving up in class to face Grade 1 company. He rated eagerly in behind the leaders and displayed a devastating turn of foot once unleashed in the lane, trouncing his main rival Green Light Go.
Some potential supporters of this horse may be deterred by his two-year-old finale in the Kentucky Jockey Club, where he failed in his bid for a championship title when defeated as the 3-5 favorite. However, things went wrong for this New York-bred colt soon after the start that day. There was very little speed signed on and Manny Franco made the decision to rate him in a pocket behind the leaders. Typically such a trip would be ideal, but given the compact nature of the field and the fact that Tiz the Law was sitting in behind two horses who ended up fading, it turned out to be the wrong tactical decision. It’s fair to argue that he still should have won the race despite that adversity, but there were obviously reasons for his failure.
The fact of the matter is that he isn’t meeting rivals in this Holy Bull that are significantly more formidable than those he faced in his two stakes attempts last year. Furthermore, Franco is unlikely to be put this horse in the same precarious situation once again. There is more speed in this race, which should allow Tiz the Law to settle into a more comfortable trip.
The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace, depicting the stretching-out Relentless Dancer (#6) on the early lead. He may make the pace here, but how the runners in behind him sort themselves out seems like an open question. For instance, a horse like Clear Destination (#5) is shown at the back of the pack in the Pace Projector, but he has displayed sprint speed in the past so it’s possible that he could be forwardly placed if his rider elects to be aggressive.
One horse who figures to fall into an ideal trip is Toledo (#1). This Chad Brown trainee didn’t have the most comfortable journey in his first start against winners last time as he had to race in traffic early and move wide to launch a bid after the leader on the turn. He probably should have gotten a little closer in the lane, but he was ridden conservatively through the lane as if winning that optional claimer wasn’t the ultimate goal. I would expect him to take a step forward off that effort, and the stretch-out in distance only figures to help given his pedigree. However, he has to improve quite a bit to get on terms with the favorite.
The others don’t entice me as win candidates. Relentless Dancer has run well in both dirt starts, but I’m skeptical about him handling added distance. Ete Indien (#4) defeated Toledo last time, but he never changed leads while drifting out badly in the stretch. I’m not confident that he can withstand additional pace pressure going two turns. Perhaps a longshot like Mayberry Deputy (#7) can work his way into the mix for a minor award, since he took a nice step forward to break his maiden last time while rallying from midpack.
Exacta Box: 1,3
Trifecta: 3 with 1,7 with 1,4,6,7