The one-mile, one-turn Holy Bull is the first leg in the MID Preakness 5.5 series that could mean a $5.5 million bonus to the winning owner and trainer of three races, culminating with a victory in the $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico on May 21.
Jockey Sebastian Madrid has ridden Gourmet Dinner in all of his six starts and will have the return call for trainer Steve Standridge as he makes his season debut. The race marks his first start since a fourth-place finish in the $750,000 CashCall Futurity (G1) on the synthetic track at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18 after the well-documented delay of the race while the winner underwent a shoe repair in the paddock.
Gourmet Dinner had won four of five starts prior to that CashCall, including his first three at Calder before finishing second as the 3-to-5 favorite in the $350,000 In Reality Division finale of the Florida Stallion Stakes in mid-October. Co-bred in Florida by owner Bill Terrill, Gourmet Dinner scored his biggest victory in the in the $1 million Delta Jackpot (G3) at Delta Downs in Louisiana on Nov. 20.
Jockey Eibar Coa will be back aboard Mucho Macho Man for trainer Kathy Ritvo as he makes his first start since finishing second in the Remsen Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on Nov. 27 behind To Honor and Serve. The son of Macho Uno had finished second to the same rival previously in the Nashua Stakes (G2) earlier that month.
The horse with the least experience in the Holy Bull, but a very big reputation, is Robert LaPenta’s Dialed In with jockey Julien Leparoux in the saddle for trainer Nick Zito. The son of Mineshaft won his debut at Churchill Downs on Nov. 12 by a half-length going 6 ½ furlongs after trailing last of 12 shortly after the start.
Dialed In was a $475,000 Saratoga yearling purchase and was supplemented to the Holy Bull as an alternative to running in an ‘a other than’ allowance carded for nine furlongs last week as Zito scratched after the track came up ‘sloppy’ before Soldat splashed home an easy winner.
Another contender that will attract support will be Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Leave of Absence with jockey Rajiv Maragh named to ride for trainer Rick Violette. The son of Harlan’s Holiday was a $145,000 Fasig-Tipton February 2-year-old purchase and finished a game second in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes here on Jan. 8 after breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in November.
Completing the field for the Holy Bull are Gary and Mary West’s Major Gain, Javier Castellano; Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Printing Press, Elvis Trujillo; Zayat Stable’s Black N Beauty, Kent Desormeaux; Rapputi Stables’s Ribo Bobo, Edgar Prado; and Lori and George Hall’s Sweet Ducky, Joe Bravo.
Two Favorites Face Fresh Challenge in Forward Gal
E. Paul Robsham Stable’s R Heat Lightning is set to make her first start Sunday in the Forward Gal since finishing second to undefeated Eclipse champion Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Churchill Downs,
Her competition will include John Oxley’s flashy Dancinginherdreams, who has impressively won both of her starts.
Jockey John Velazquez retains the mount on R Heat Lightning in her first start since they teamed up to set the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies until Awesome Feather edged to take command inside the eighth pole. The Florida homebred by Trippi had won the Spinaway Stakes (G1) at Saratoga and finished second in the Frizette Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in her two previous starts.
Jockey Julien Leparoux will be back aboard Dancnginherdream for trainer John Ward after they partnered for two very impressive victories in Kentucky to begin her career, making a brilliant debut scoring by five lengths in her debut at Keeneland on Oct. 10. The roan/gray daughter of Tapit was a $350,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase and came back to win the Pocahontas Stakes (G2) by 5 ¼ lengths last out at Churchill on Oct. 31.
The top two face an experienced filly with 10 starts bidding for her fifth consecutive victory in Cairoli Stable’s Devilish Lady to be ridden by Daniel Centeno. Trainer Antonio Sano claimed the daughter of Sweetsouthernsaint for $16,000 at Calder in late September, winning the Joe O’Farrell Stakes there 7 ¾ lengths two starts later, and most recently posted an easy score winning the Gasparilla Stakes by 6 ¾ lengths at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 15.
Completing the field of seven entered in the Forward Gal are Jacks or Better Farm’s Evil Queen, Jeffrey Sanchez; Hardacre Farm’s Pomeroys Pistol, Paco Lopez; Ron Magers and Bob Marcocchio’s Third Chance, Joe Bravo; and Cash is King LLC’s Alexandra Rylee, Rajiv Maragh.