Algorithms a Derby Candidate After Upsetting Hansen in Holy Bull
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Algorithms remained undefeated in Sunday’s $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park while handing 2011 Eclipse Award-winning Hansen the first defeat of his career.
While scoring by five lengths in his stakes debut with his third-straight trip to the winner’s circle, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt became an instant and prominent candidate for this year’s Kentucky Derby. The son of Bernardini also completed a graded-stakes double for Pletcher, who saddled Broadway’s Alibi for a 16 ¾ -length triumph in the $200,000 Forward Gal (G2) one race earlier on the 11-race card.
“This race was going to tell us where we were with him, running against the 2-year-old champion,” said Pletcher, whose Holy Bull winner had previously won his debut at Belmont last June and captured an allowance race at Gulfstream last month.“Now he’s done everything we’ve asked him to.”
Hansen, the 4-5 favorite who stumbled coming out of the gate in the one-turn, one-mile stakes, finished second under jockey Ramon Dominguez in his 2012 debut, holding off a late-closing My Adonis by a half length.
“Ramon said pretty much after he stumbled he popped up and jumped right into the bit and was a little headstrong and fresh, but other than that it was a good effort and he galloped out strong,” said trainer Michael Maker, whose champion capped an undefeated 2011 season with a triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. “We’re pleased.”
Algorithms, the 5-2 second choice, broke sharply from the starting gate as Hansen stumbled, but Castellano sat patiently on his colt as the favorite quickly recovered and shot to the lead. Castellano remained patient as Hansen opened up by four lengths on the backstretch while setting swift fractions of :23.64 and :45.67 for the first half mile. Algorithms steadily advanced leaving the backstretch and along the far turn to come within 1 ½ lengths at the top of the stretch. Set down for the stretch drive, Starlight Racing’s colt responded to catch Hansen in mid-stretch on his way to a dominating score.
“I wanted to take my time and not rush my horse. Hansen has a lot of speed and he’s the 2-year-old champion so I was just really patient and waited for the right time to move,” Castellano said. “He felt absolutely amazing today. He broke so sharp and wanted to go to the lead, but I just took my time. I don’t think two turns will be a problem for him. I rode his father Bernardini to win the Preakness and other big races and hopefully this horse can be like that. He’s certainly in the right hands with Todd Pletcher.”
Although Hansen was no match for Algorithms in the stretch, Dominguez said he was hardly disappointed with the speedy gray colt.
“He has a lot of speed and he might have been a little bit fresh today too which is why we went a little faster than I was looking for. He stumbled coming out of the gate and he picked himself up pretty quickly, but sometimes that scares a horse a little bit and they go a little fast. The stumble probably didn’t help but it’s not an excuse,” he said. “I’m not happy that he didn’t win but I’m not totally disappointed. When he got passed, he really dug in and he galloped out really well.”
Algorithms, a $170,000 yearling purchase, ran the mile in 1:36.17 over a sloppy track while earning $240,000 for his fourth-straight win. The winner’s share of the Holy Bull purse virtually assures Algorithm a spot in the Kentucky Derby field, which is determined by graded-stakes earnings.
Algorithms is the stablemate of Discreet Dancer, whom Pletcher has saddled for a pair of dazzling victories during the Gulfstream meeting. The eight-time leading trainer has yet to map out definite plans for either colt.
“It’s too early to say what we might do with him at this point. You can never have enough good 3-year-olds, but you hate to run them against each other. Now we have Discreet Dancer and this colt that are two-for-two over the track. He’s (Algorithms) by Bernardini and I don’t think he’ll have distance limitations. So we just have to sort things out from here.”