White Abarrio Dominates Saturday’s 250k Holy Bull
Curlin Florida Derby or Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Next
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – C2 Racing Stables LLC and La Milagrosa Stable LLC’s White Abarrio took full advantage of a homecourt edge and a dream trip at Gulfstream Park to capture Saturday’s $250,000 Holy Bull (G3), becoming a serious prospect for the 2022 Triple Crown.
The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull, the first graded stakes on the Road to the Curlin Florida Derby (G1), headlined a program featuring five graded stakes for 3-year-olds.
White Abarrio, who earned 10 qualifying points for this year’s Kentucky Derby, broke alertly from the starting gate under Tyler Gaffalione to reach close stalking position behind pacesetting Galt around the first turn and along the backstretch, as two more highly regarded rivals by the bettors had to deal with less-than-ideal starts.
Galt set fractions of 23.93 and 47.31 [seconds] for the first half mile but relinquished the lead to White Abarrio while tiring on the turn into the stretch. Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained White Abarrio ($14) kicked on through the stretch under Tyler Gaffalione to win by a comfortable 4 ½ lengths.
“It was an ideal trip. The horse broke sharply and put me where I wanted to be. He settled nicely on the backside and when I called on him, he gave me another gear and finished the job well,” Gaffalione said. “I don’t think distance is going to be a problem. He was just hitting his best stride down the lane and, galloping out, I had a really difficult time pulling him up. I was calling for the outrider.”
Simplification, the 7-2 second betting choice who broke extremely slow out of the starting gate, closed to finish a courageous second after making a steady and wide drive, a head in front of Mo Donegal, the 8-5 favorite who raced in traffic several lengths behind the pace before offering a strong stretch kick.
White Abarrio, who had missed two workouts in preparation for the Holy Bull due to a brief illness, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.80 while running his Gulfstream record to 3-for-3 and winning around two turns for the first time.
“It was a big performance. We were ahead of schedule all the time and then he got sick and we missed two works,” Joseph said. “We ended up being ahead of schedule to behind. Quality horses overcome those things.”
The gray son of Race Day had earned two qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby while finishing third in the Nov. 27 Kentucky Jockey Cup (G2) at Churchill Downs. It was his most recent start before winning the Holy Bull over a racing surface on which he had won his first two career races in going away fashion.
“He trains like a horse that will handle a distance, but until they do, you never know for sure. I thought the [Kentucky] Jockey Club was a great education,” Joseph said. “He showed he could get two turns and today he answered it emphatically.”
The $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at 1 1/16 miles is next on the 3-year-old stakes scheduled on March. 5, followed by the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on April 2.
“I would say off this, the ball is in our court, why not go straight to the Florida Derby?” Joseph said. “It gives him good spacing, and it will be his third start going in the [Kentucky] Derby, I mean if he makes the Kentucky Derby it will be his third race. That would be ideal right now, but we’ll talk it over whether to go to the Fountain of Youth or not.”
Antonio Sano-trained Simplification entered the Holy Bull off a front-running four-length victory in the mile Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Jan. 1 but lost all chance of repeating that performance at the start.
“I’m not disappointed at all. I’m very satisfied the way he did it. I know we expected to be on the lead, but we learned something. He’s starting to develop himself, and the good thing it seems to me is that he doesn’t have to be on the lead,” Hall of Famer jockey Javier Castellano said. “He proved that he can come from behind, also. The first time going two turns, he did it and he did it really well. He finished up really good. The other horse, he got the jump and unfortunately we had the bad break.”
Todd Pletcher-trained Mo Donegal, who captured the Remsen (G2), also broke slowly and didn’t get untracked until nearing the stretch.
“I thought he finished really well, it just took him a little while to get out in the clear and get going,” Pletcher said. “The last hundred yards he was making up a lot of ground. He just kind of ran out of real estate at the end. I was happy with the way he closed. It actually kind of hurt us that [Simplification] didn’t break well because it kind of altered the fractions of the race and there wasn’t a whole lot of pace and that’s always a disadvantage at Gulfstream. I was pleased with the horse’s performance. He ran well and finished up good.”