2021 Holy Bull Stakes Preview

2021 Holy Bull Stakes

The Kentucky Derby prep race series swings to Florida this week with the 2021 Holy Bull Stakes. In this 31st edition of the Holy Bull Stakes, the horses will run at Gulfstream Park on January 30th.

Ten qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby are up for grabs at the Holy Bull, which also serves as a steppingstone to the Florida Derby (G1) on March 28th.

2021 Holy Bull nominations ended on January 17th, and by then, the names of 22 three-year-olds had been entered into the final fray. The final list of entries will contain less than half as many horses. Last year, there were just seven.

About the Holy Bull Stakes

The race was originally called Preview Stakes when it was inaugurated in 1990. Six years later, it was renamed in honor of its Hall of Famer namesake. Holy Bull was the American Horse of the Year 1994, winning six different G1 races. Retired to stud after an injury in 1995, he sired the 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo.

Holy Bull was upgraded to G3 status in 1995, which is held for quite a long time. From 2014 to 2019, it was elevated to a G2 race. As of 2020, its grade has been reduced to G3. Only colts are allowed to participate.

The race itself has thrown up some big winners over the decades. Go for Gin (1994) and Barbaro (2006) both won the Kentucky Derby. More recently, Tiz The Law went on to win the Belmont Stakes and finished second in the Kentucky Derby.

Holy Bull 2021 Cheat Sheet

  • Track: Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, FL
  • Date: 1/30/2021
  • Distance: 1 1/16 mile
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Conditions: 3yo M
  • Purse: $200k
  • Qualifying Points (Kentucky Derby): 10-4-2-1

2021 Holy Bull – Colts to Watch (Probables)


Into Mischief – Downside Scenario by Scat Daddy

Shadwell Stable’s Mutasaabeq is bound to be a firm favorite for the Holy Bull stakes if he ends up on the final list. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the bay colt comes into this race fine form – he was the winner of the 1-mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes on January 2 at Gulfstream Park.

Mutasaabeq started that race as the firm favorite and ended a comfortable 1 ½ lengths ahead. The list of nominees for the Holy Bull includes at least four colts he beat on that day – Papetu, Awesome Gerry, Pickin Time, and Ultimate Badger.

The colt also has one other major win to his credit from 2020 – the G2 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland in October. That was a very impressive performance indeed as it was a last to first finish. More pertinently, that race was the same 1 1/16 mile distance as the Holy Bull.

His pedigree is also excellent – Into Mischief is the sire of Authentic, the prolific winner of Kentucky Derby and Breeder’s Cup Classic in 2020. On the dam side, his lineage goes back to Scat Daddy, Florida Derby winner and sire to 69 stakes winners.

Sittin On Go

Brody’s Cause – Set’n On Ready by More than Ready

As the only colt on the probables list with points on the Prep races leaderboard, Sittin On Go is another top dog to watch. He got 10 points in one of the earliest qualifying races – the 2020 Iroquois Stakes G3 at Churchill Downs in September.

He ran a strong race in that 1-mile event, finishing comfortably ahead of Midnight Bourbon – another Kentucky Derby contender with 16 points on the leaderboard in January. Sittin On Go is a few places below, with 10.

The Dale L Romans-trained colt had a couple of unremarkable starts after the Iroquois Stakes, particularly in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile at Keeneland where he finished 9th. His last proper race was also in November – the Kentucky Jockey Club G2 (Churchill Downs) – he finished 6th.

His sire Brody’s Cause has caught the eye in recent years with a few stakes winners – in fact, Sittin On Go is his first black-type winner.

Greatest Honor

Tapit – Tiffany’s Honor by Street Cry

The son of Tapit returns to Gulfstream Park a month after his maiden win in the December 26 race there. After three failed attempts – two of them ending in places – Greatest Honor tasted success in quite a memorable fashion.

In that 1 1/16 mile race, he got off to a poor start before clawing back into contention. The colt is trained by Claude R McGaughey III, finished ahead of Todd Pletcher’s Dynamic One. That performance makes him one of seven colts on the probables list coming into Holy Bull off a win.

Despite his lack of winning experience in graded races, Greatest Honor will attract bettors’ attention due to pedigree – Tapit is one of North American racing’s leading sires, with several Classic winners – Untapable, Tonalist, and Tapwrit all come to mind.

Prime Factor

Quality Road – Haylie Brae by Bernardini

The story here is nearly identical to that of Greatest Honor –Prime Factor won his maiden at Gulfstream Park in December, a couple of weeks earlier. He is a stablemate of Mutasaabeq, trained by Todd Pletcher.

His win was even more impressive compared to Greatest Honour, however, with absolute domination. Prime Factor won his debut with a margin of eight lengths, and that too in a six-furlong race. Such a solid performance from a two-year-old put him down as a strong contender for the upcoming prep races.

Looking at the bloodlines, the hype around Prime Factor is not undeserved. His sire is Quality Road, himself the progeny of the legendary stallion Elusive Quality. As a stud, Quality Road has sired an impressive 21 graded stakes winners. On the dam’s side, there is Bernardini, the 2006 Preakness Stakes winner.

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