It’s not every week that my jaw drops in awe at a performance on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but that was pretty much my reaction when the field turned for home in the February 3rd $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park.
At that juncture in the 8.5-furlong race, the Grade 1-winning Free Drop Billy had just loomed up alongside the Todd Pletcher-trained Audible, who had tracked the pace for the first five furlongs before taking command from the tiring leaders. From all appearances, Free Drop Billy was ready to roll right on by.
Then jockey Javier Castellano asked Audible to run, and the result was absolutely explosive.
With a powerful burst of acceleration, Audible took off like the race had just started, leaving Free Drop Billy reeling in his wake. In the blink of an eye Audible was two lengths in front, and he continued to pour it on to the finish line, which he reached in the excellent time of 1:41.92 seconds to win by 5 ½ lengths. That time was good for an eye-catching 105 BRIS speed figure.
But wait, there’s more. Audible’s burst of speed was not a mere illusion brought about by tiring rivals—Free Drop Billy actually ran a huge race while finishing second, pulling 7 ¾ lengths clear of the rest of the field. But even more noteworthy, Audible ran the fourth quarter-mile in :23.89 and the final sixteenth in :06.03, terrific times even considering that the early fractions (:23.59, :47.14, and 1:12.00) were modest.
It’s just not common to see a lightly-raced three-year-old produce that kind of acceleration—much less instantaneous acceleration—in an early February prep race. In addition to Free Drop Billy, Audible defeated Enticed and Tiz Mischief (first and second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last fall) by 20 ¼ and 14 ¾ lengths, respectively. Any way you look at it, Audible’s performance was exceptional.
Only time will tell if Audible can repeat or build on this effort in the future; it was a big step forward off his previous efforts, and we’ve seen many impressive Holy Bull winners peak too soon in the winter. That said, I haven’t seen a more impressive performance from a three-year-old so far this year and am excited to see what the future holds for Audible. Free Drop Billy also caught my eye with his strong runner-up effort, and I’m willing to forgive Enticed’s fourth-place finish since he was in tight quarters for much of the race and didn’t get a comfortable run by any means.
What did you think of Audible’s victory in the Holy Bull?