The Kentucky Derby Prep Series has a big weekend on tap starting with the Grade 2 Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The race is the first of three Derby prep races held at Gulfstream with qualifying points available to the top four finishers.
While the field is small with only six entries, the quality of the entrants, especially the top three choices should make for an exciting race tomorrow afternoon. The main star is east coast hopeful Mohaymen, a $2.2 million Keeneland September sale graduate, purchased by Shadwell Stable and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.
Mohaymen is undefeated in three races and is currently atop the Wynn Las Vegas’ Future Book odds for the Kentucky Derby at 14-1. Two other colts in this race, Greenpointcrusader and Conquest Big E both find themselves in the top 16 in the Future Book.
Let’s take a look at the field (post position, trainer, jockey, morning line odds in parenthesis):
1-Perfect Saint (Romans, Lanerie, 20-1). The son of Pleasantly Perfect has had two straight rough outings for trainer Dale Romans after breaking his maiden at Churchill in his third career race. This looks to be a pretty tough spot for him, would have to show a lot of improvement to hit the board.
2-Mohaymen (McLaughlin, Alvarado, 6-5). The class of the field and son of Tapit, looks to win his fourth straight. Has been working well at Palm Meadows and should handle this field and provide McLaughlin with one of his best chances to capture a Derby. Interesting that McLaughlin decided to go the Florida route instead of running in the Withers, a race he has had recent success. The pick.
3-Fellowship (Gold, Caraballo, 20-1). Florida-bred who has had some success on the Gulfstream strip will be stepping up in class in the Holy Bull. Has a few sharp workouts under his belt, could crash the trifecta with a perfect trip.
4-Conquest Big E (Casse, Smith, 7-2). Casse thinks enough of this horse to coerce Hall of Famer Mike Smith to ship in from the west coast to ride the Tapit colt. Comes out of an allowance win at Churchill after an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, just behind Greenpointcrusader. Looks like he’ll get better as they keep stretching out. In the mix.
5-Greenpointcrusader (Schettino, Velazquez, 8-5). Second-choice on the morning line, Johnny V will ride for the first time. He finished strong in the Juvenile at Keeneland after being caught very wide. The only Grade 1 winner in the field is the main threat to the favorite. The son of Bernardini makes his 2016 debut and should improve with a Hall of Famer in the irons. Contender.
6-Frontier Ranger (Pellegrini, Zayas, 15-1). The gelded son of U.S. Ranger tries dirt for the second consecutive race. He finished third in a highly competitive allowance behind Cherry Wine. Will need to make a major step to be a factor with this group.
I’m going to be eating chalk in here, but if Mohaymen impresses he will shoot to the top of the Derby contender list in a hurry.
Post Time Outlook: 1-Mohaymen, 2-Greenpointcrusader, 3-Conquest Big E
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.