Last seen winning the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Enticed brings lofty expectations into his 3-year-old season and gets back to work in the $350,000 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream Park Saturday. The 1 1/16-mile race has attracted a field of 11 including a quartet from Dale Romans and a pair from leading trainer Todd Pletcher, and it’s worth a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1 scale) as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Kiaran McLaughlin trains Enticed, a Godolphin homebred colt by Medaglia d’Oro who won at first asking when capturing a 6-furlong maiden special weight at Saratoga in early September. The dark bay colt showed signs of immaturity despite recording a near two-length decision and continued to race in spots when stepping up to face stakes rivals in the October 7 Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park, rallying for third behind Firenze Fire and Good Magic. The latter came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in spectacular fashion and was named champion 2-year-old male.
Enticed skipped the Breeders’ Cup and made his juvenile finale at Churchill Downs, but everything didn’t go smoothly as he was bumped severely entering the first turn of the Kentucky Jockey Club. He managed to hold his positioning just behind the early leaders and pounced in the stretch, taking the lead and gamely withstanding the late surge of Tiz Mischief to prevail by a head. Joel Rosario takes over piloting duties and figures to employ ground-saving tactics from the innermost post.
Tiz Mischief will renew his rivalry with Enticed following an extremely encouraging performance in his stakes bow. One of four from the Romans shedrow, the Into Mischief colt dropped his first two starts at one-turn and broke his maiden when stretching out to 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland. The confirmed closer retains the services of Robby Albarado.
Romans said either Free Drop Billy or Hollywood Star, who are both owned by Albaugh Family Stables, will likely scratch and head to the February 10 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Free Drop Billy has better credentials, finishing a close second in the Sanford (G3) and Hopeful (G1) before breaking through with a nice win in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at two turns, but will need to rebound from a disappointing seventh as the 7-1 second choice in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Hollywood Star placed in a couple of stakes last year, including the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs, and exits a sixth in the Juvenile.
Leading rider Luis Saez is scheduled to pick up the mount on Free Drop Billy and Irad Ortiz Jr. has been tabbed to take over on Hollywood Star.
Bandito, expected to be one of the longest shots in the field after a last-place showing in the Remsen (G2), completes the Romans contingent.
Pletcher will send out Audible, an Into Mischief colt who exits a 9 ¾-length romp in an off-the-turf allowance at Aqueduct in early December; and turf maiden scorer Pony Up, who exits a pair of seconds in the Pulpit and Kitten’s Joy on Gulfstream’s turf. Javier Castellano sticks with Audible and John Velazquez takes over aboard Pony Up.
Mississippi, who exits a respectable second to Noble Indy in a January 11 entry-level allowance/optional claimer, can’t be dismissed from contention for Mark Casse. Julien Leparoux rides the Pioneerof the Nile colt. Tip Sheet, who finished more than six lengths behind Mississippi in third, also wheels back for the Holy Bull. Completing the field are last-out maiden scorer Master Manipulator and Aequor, who exits a non-threatening second in the 6-furlong Limehouse.