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Jan 24, 2014

Top rated 3-year-olds to contest Holy Bull Stakes


Hallandale Beach, FL ( - Remsen Stakes runner-up Cairo Prince heads a solid field of 11 3-year-olds for Saturday's $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull is an important prep race on the road to the Triple Crown. Last year Itsmyluckyday won the race before finishing second in both the Florida Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Owned by Harvey Clarke and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Cairo Prince will start from post 7 with his regular jockey Luis Saez. This will be the gray colt's season debut.

As a 2-year-old in 2013, Cairo Prince won his first two starts, including the Nashua at Aqueduct. He followed with a nose loss to Honor Code in the Remsen Stakes at the New York track. The colt has banked $272,000.

"When you get on the Derby Trail, they're all going to be tough. I think we have a really nice horse, and I wouldn't trade places with anybody," said McLaughlin.

Breaking from the inside post will be highly regarded Coup de Grace, owned by Fox Hill Farm who campaigned 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace.

Coup de Grace, trained by Chad Brown, gets the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez who is returning from injury. With Javier Castellano riding, Coup de Grace won his initial two career starts and will be making both his stakes and two-turn debut Saturday.

"It's going to be a tough race," Brown said. "He's unproven around two turns, and it's a real test for him. I think it's that time of year to try him around two turns and then we can figure out how to campaign him the rest of the year."

Also coming out of the Remsen will be its third-place horse Wicked Strong. The colt, trained by Jimmy Jerkens for Centennial Farms, will have Castellano riding from post 8.

"He's a nice colt; he's got good wind; he's good and strong; and he's got a bit of a streak in him, which is good," Jerkens said. "He's a tough horse to handle, but he puts it all together on the track. He doesn't cheat on the track. He's all business when he gets out there."

Wicked Strong was beaten a half-length in the Remsen behind Honor Code and Cairo Prince.

"People still don't know how to gauge the race because it was so slow - the pace was so slow," Jerkens said. "It was incredibly slow and they sprinted home. He was going faster than all of them."

The colt comes into the Holy Bull with earnings of $113,000 from three races with a first, second and third.

Here is the field for the Holy Bull in post position order: Coup de Grace, John Velazquez; Financial Mogul, Jose Ortiz; Best Plan Yet, Edgard Zayas; Almost Famous, Calvin Borel; Our Caravan, Corey Lanerie; Mr Speaker, Jose Lezcano; Cairo Prince, Luis Saez; Wicked Strong, Javier Castellano; Conquest Titan, Shaun Bridgmohan; Big Bazinga, Joe Bravo and Intense Holiday, Joel Rosario.

The Holy Bull has an approximate post-time of 5:03 p.m. (ET).

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