By Gene Kershner
The Kentucky Derby trail is off and running and an interesting horse emerged from Sunday's $400,000 Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. Dialed In, a Mineshaft colt, saved ground early after being taken back 15 lengths from the leaders and overcame 14-1 Sweet Ducky in the final furlong to win by 1 1/2 lengths. He earned $240,000 of graded earnings to put him in excellent position to garner one of the prestigious starting gates for the Run for the Roses on May 7 at Churchill Downs.
Dialed In ($7.40) covered the mile distance on a fast track in 1:35.19 for trainer Nick Zito, who finished second in last year's Kentucky Derby with Ice Box. Jockey Julien Leparoux conducted a terrific ground saving trip on the rail before veering outside at the top of the stretch to overtake Sweet Ducky, Gourmet Dinner and Mucho Macho Man down the stretch.
Dialed In is also eligible for a $5.5 million dollar bonus for any horse that wins the Holy Bull, the Florida Derby and the Preakness. You can bet we'll see him in the gate on April 3 at Gulfstream Park for the second leg of the potential bonus bonanza.
The next two months will see many of the top horses scrambling to attain those precious graded stakes dollars to become eligible to enter the Kentucky Derby. February will offer thoroughbreds several bites at the apple at venues such as Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs, Oaklawn Park, Fair Grounds and Gulfstream.
February's schedule of graded stakes for 3-year olds is as follows:
February 12 Tampa Bay Downs Grade 3 $225,000 Sam F. Davis
February 12 Santa Anita Park Grade 3 $250,000 Robert B. Lewis
February 19 Fair Grounds Grade 2 $300,000 Risen Star
February 20 Santa Anita Park Grade 2 $150,000 San Vicente S.
February 21 Oaklawn Park Grade 3 $250,000 Southwest S.
February 26 Gulfstream Park Grade 3 $150,000 Hutcheson S.
February 26 Gulfstream Park Grade 2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth S.
Other Derby Notes
• Gourmet Dinner, who ran third to Dialed In, earned another $40,000, giving him $700,000 which virtually assures him of a spot in the Derby.
• 2-year old champion Uncle Mo registered his first workout of the season, going a rather routine 39.80 for three furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday. Trainer Todd Pletcher is most likely going to run Uncle Mo only twice before the Derby. The most likely places we'll see him are in the Tampa Bay Derby in March and the Wood Memorial in April.
• Pletcher also worked out two of his other top 3-year-olds on Sunday at Palm Meadows. A colt that we'll see in the Post Time Derby Dozen next week, Brethren, went five furlongs in 1:02.20. Brethren should see his next race in the Sam Davis at Tampa. Stay Thirsty worked three furlongs in 36.95, registering a bullet for the distance preparing for his next race, most likely the Gotham at Aqueduct in March.
Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer, handicapper and member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.