With 1-5 favorite Fierceness fading in the stretch, Hades pulled off a surprise victory in the $260,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Sent off at 9-1 in a field of seven 3-year-olds, Hades broke first from the rail under Paco Lopez, briefly gave up the lead the Fierceness around the far turn, but regained control turning for home in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Derby (G1) prep.
Fierceness, the 2-year-old champion and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G2), had a bumpy start, was taken wide by John Velazquez, poked his head in front, but faded in the stretch and finished third.
Domestic Product finished second, two lengths behind Hades. The winning time for the race was 1:46.07.
“The champ eyeballed him at the top of the stretch, but our horse had another gear,’’ Hades’ trainer Joe Orseno said.
Hades, now 3-for-3, picked up 20 Derby qualifying points with the win, while runner-up Domestic Product earned 10 points, with Fierceness adding 6 points to up his total to 36. The Florida bred gelding returned $20.40 (on a $2 win bet).
Fierceness was all the rage leading up to the Holy Bull, and trainer Todd Pletcher was expecting a solid effort from the Mike Repole-owned son of City of Light. But his 3-year-old debut was a dud, just like his effort in the Champagne (G1) after winning his career debut by 11 lengths.
Fierceness left from post 6, was bumped by Domestic Product, then taken outside and ran third behind Hades and Inveigled. By the time he hit the stretch, he was out of steam.
“The way he broke out of there, he kind of broke a step slow and got bounced out of there,’’ Velazquez said. “I had to put him into the race and then sat against him on the backstretch. Somebody moved on the outside and I let him do his thing. (I saw) Paco’s already riding so I kind of sat against him thinking, ‘Let me just wait.’ When I asked him, he wasn’t there for me.”
Orseno, a well-respected trainer for over 45 years, is hopefully back on the Derby trail. He won the 2000 Preakness with Red Bullet, and this was his first graded stakes win in four years.
“This is what you hope for,’’ winning owner Jonathan Green of D.J. Stable said. “You hope you have a horse that’s this good that can carry your dreams into another level for the Florida Derby and then the Kentucky Derby … (Joe) knows how to handle a horse and get him into the Triple Crown races. But I was so happy that our horse went eyeball-to-eyeball with a champ and put him away.”
Inveigled was fourth, followed by Dancing Groom, Otello, and Sea Streak. No More Time was a trainer scratch.
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.