Hansen Gets a Free Pass in the Holy Bull
External imageDespite being very excited for the race, I had to lay down for my pre-work nap early yesterday, meaning I would have to miss the Holy Bull Stakes (III), which featured the return of the champ Hansen against five others. As I sandwiched my head in between two pillows (yes, this is really how I sleep), I felt uneasy: after scoring a couple bucks on El Padrino’s allowance win, the track had been downgraded to sloppy. Normally speed-favoring, Gulfstream Park got hit with a brief rainstorm and a beating of hooves leading up to the Holy Bull, and honestly nothing was remotely for sure when that happens. While the track had been sealed earlier, I canceled my pick 4– a spread that included Hansen as the winner of race 10– and went to sleep uneasy. Waking up, the seemingly unnatural came true.
Hansen was to have a tough race regardless, but every one of those horses liked being right up with the speed early. On a tiring, muddy surface after a stumble at the start, Hansen gave way in mid-stretch to the Bernardini colt, Algorithms, who went home to win by five– that’s one second that ultimately destroyed Hansen’s unbeaten streak and raised questions about his ability.
So, he failed the mud test, but is the mile-long Holy Bull really grounds to give Algorithms a higher class grade than Hansen just yet? Perhaps it’s patriotism empowering me, but it’s a simple “no” answer without looking back. I have not seen a horse like Hansen in quite some time, who not only wins convincingly but against top competition. Algorithms, on the other hand, still has something to prove. In a mile-long first test of the year where a good first-time Lasix entry trailed the field (Consortium) and the champ stumbled and grew frustrated with the surface, it’s too early to tell much.
Holy Bull himself may have had an undefeated two-year-old season, but he still came in last in the Fountain of Youth leading up to the Derby. For Hansen’s sake, let he encounter no more freak rainstorms.