Last weekend, at Oaklawn, Dry fly kicked off the track's 3yr Triple Crown preps, gliding to an easy win in the Smarty Jones Stakes. Gulfstream's prep schedule was kicked off in the Spectacular Bid Stakes, won by A Little Warm, January ninth. However, this weekend the spotlight will be on Gulfstream's first graded prep race, the Holly Bull.
This race is literally loaded with talent. The Calder Champ, Jackson Bend, will be looking to continue his winning ways as a three year old, after going five for six as a juvenile. Piscitelli may not have the most impressive resume, with only a maiden win to his credit, but as a three year old he will be attempting to prove himself as more than just a runner-up. Homeboykris, the Champagne winner, will be looking to rebound off a lackluster effort in his first attempt at two turns, in the Remsen. Winslow Homer, the Philadelphia Park sensation, will try stakes competition for the first time, but if his maiden and allowance win are any indication of his potential, he may very well just runaway with the field. Other than the fantastic four the field includes grade one placed Aikenite, Sunday Silence winner William's Kitten, Thank U Philippe, Litigation Risk, and Wine Lime.
If you noticed many the starter in the Holly Bull are also already on my Derby Top Ten list. Of all of these, I would say my favorite three are Winslow Homer, Jackson Bend, and Aikenite. Winslow Homer has show unbelievable talent in his last two starts. Granted they were against maiden and allowance company, and this field is much deeper than those he has already beaten. However this silver streak has demonstrated such easy in his runaway victories, that it would seem he would have plenty more to give when challenged.
Jackson Bend is also one of my very favorite colts on the Triple Crown Trail. Many detractors will point out that all of his wins come over the Calder strip, which is not know for producing a lot of talented Triple Crown horses. However, if anybody has a long enough memory, another speedy, classy colt came from Calder before blowing away his rivals in the Saratoga Special and Futurity Stakes. His name would be D'Funnybone, a colt that was also one of the many that Jackson Bend conquered. Jackson Bend owns the only triple digit BFS for a juvenile and already had proven the ability to go around two turns.
Aikenite has been as consistent as they come, and even though he may only have a maiden win to his credit, his performances in stakes company prove time and time again that he does belong with top competition. Also, what I have noticed, is that, Aikenite's one win came while running over a conventional dirt track, two of his losses after that win were came over synthetics. For the Holly Bull, Aikenite will return to dirt again, where his record stands as two starts, one win and one third. If Aikenite should improve any as three year old he should be a big threat coming into this year's Kentucky Derby.
Basically an win for an of these colts could move them way up my list, potentially to the top. Also coming up this weekend is the Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Last year's winner, Frisian Fire, went on to sweep the Fair Grounds three major preps for three year olds, which earned him favoritism in the Kentucky Derby. So, reset your brains, it's time to get ready for the Kentucky Derby!