Holy Bull S. (G3) — Race 11 (4:50 p.m. ET)
Although he’s had only one start and victory to his credit, an 8 3/4-length maiden score over 6 furlongs last month, the optimism surrounding Prime Factor is such that the son of Quality Road went off as the sixth individual betting choice at 21-1 in last week’s second pool of the 2021 Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW).
Prime Factor can give an indication whether that respect is justified on Saturday when he steps up in class for the $200,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3), a 1 1/16-mile Road to the Kentucky Derby series prep that will award Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.
Trained by Todd Pletcher for WinStar Farm and CHC (the former China Horse Club), Prime Factor represents connections that have all tasted Derby success in the past. However, the last horse to win the Holy Bull and Derby was Barbaro 15 years ago. Last year the Holy Bull was won by Tiz the Law, who racked up Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby, Belmont S., and Travers later in the season.
Pletcher also saddles another second-time starter in Amount, a son of Curlin who won at first asking by 5 3/4 lengths over 7 furlongs in late December. Another recent graduate to watch is Greatest Honour, whose fourth attempt proved a winning one for Shug McGaughey going 1 1/16 miles on the same Dec. 26 card as Amount’s debut.
Among those with stakes form is Sittin On Go, who comfortably upset the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs in September but proved ineffective in both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his next two outings. Stretching out off respective second- and third-place finishes in the Jan 2. Mucho Macho Man S. are Papetu and Awesome Gerry.
Trying dirt for the first time is Tarantino, who’s won twice in three tries on the grass and was beaten a nose in the Zuma Beach S. at Santa Anita on the turf in October.
Swale S. (G3) — Race 6 (2:10 p.m. ET)
The $100,000 Swale S. (G3), a 7-furlong test for 3-year-olds, pits three-time winner Drain the Clock against promising maiden scorers By George and Likeable.
A recent 7 1/2-length winner of the Limehouse S. at Gulfstream, Drain the Clock has endured only one setback in four outings, and that the result of losing his rider in a stakes at Delta Downs two back.
By George, meanwhile, enters off a 5 1/4-length debut win at Aqueduct over next-out graduate Too Boss for Christophe Clement. The son of Into Mischief is also joined Likeable, an impressive maiden scorer for Todd Pletcher at Belmont last October but a sub-par 13th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last time.
Adding fuel to the pace will be Poppy’s Pride, who’s riding a three-stakes win streak compiled at all three of Florida’s pari-mutuel tracks last season.
Kitten’s Joy S. (G3) — Race 4 (1:10 p.m. ET)
Never Surprised figures as the strong favorite in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy S. (G3), a one-mile grass test for sophomores, after starting his career 2-for-2 at Aqueduct in November. Most recently, the Pletcher-trained son of Constitution led gate-to-wire in the Central Park S. on Nov. 28.
The solid second choice is likely Kentucky Pharoah, who led all the way to win the Jan 2. Dania Beach S. at Gulfstream by three lengths.