HOLY BULL STAKES | PURSE: $400,000 | GRADE 3 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | 1 MILE
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Eclipse Award winner Hansen may have been the center of attention, but it was Algorithms who stole the show in Sunday's $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, cruising to an easy five-length victory over the reigning 2-year-old champion in the first major local prep on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Algorithms completed yet another memorable afternoon at Gulfstream for trainer Todd Pletcher, who earlier had sent out Broadway's Alibi to a sensational 16 3/4-length triumph in the Grade 2 Forward Gal, and El Padrino, another of his top 3-year-old prospects, to an impressive entry-level allowance win around two turns.
Algorithms, a son of Bernardini, entered the one-mile Holy Bull undefeated in two starts and with an allowance win over the track. With regular rider Javier Castellano aboard, Algorithms broke alertly from his outside post, then rated nicely off the pace of Hansen, who stumbled briefly leaving the gate before assuming his customary position on the lead.
Algorithms chased the favorite into the stretch and overtook the leader nearing the eighth pole before drawing away with complete authority. Hansen proved no match for the winner but managed to hold off the late-running My Adonis by a length to finish second.
Fort Loudon, Silver Max, and Consortium rounded out the complete order of finish.
Algorithms ($7) ran a mile over the sloppy track in 1:36.17.
"We knew we were going to find out where we stood with this horse running against the 2-year-old champ," said Pletcher, who trains Algorithms for Starlight Racing. "We had the benefit of a good post and a race over the track, and overall I was very, very pleased with his effort. We didn't know for sure how he'd handle the racetrack but his pedigree suggested he would. He was on his toes leaving the paddock but relaxed well for us. He's by Bernardini and so far he hasn't shown any distance limitations."
Pletcher, who has more than a handful of potential Kentucky Derby candidates in his barn at the moment, said he remains undecided where or when Algorithms would return.
"You can never have enough good 2-year-olds in this business," said Pletcher. "Now we have Discreet Dancer and Algorithms who are 2 for 2 over this track but you hate to run them against each other."
Trainer Mike Maker said he was pleased with Hansen's performance even in defeat.
"He stumbled, popped up, and jumped right into the bit," said Maker. "He was a little head-strong and fresh but other than that it was a good effort."