Algorithms Derails Champ Hansen in Holy Bull

Upset Winner Raised and Sold by Valkyre Stud

Algorithms. Photo: Coglianese Photos

By Jack Shinar
January 29, 2012

Algorithms overtook juvenile champion Hansen approaching mid-stretch en route to an easy victory in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) (VIDEO), handing the odds-on favorite the first defeat of his career Jan. 29 at rainy Gulfstream Park.

The handy five-length win in the Holy Bull by Starlight Racing’s unbeaten 3-year-old son of Bernardini   completed quite a day for trainer Todd Pletcher at Gulfstream.

He won the companion feature on the card, the $200,000 Forward Gal Stakes (gr. II) with Broadway’s Alibi, who demolished a field of 3-year-old fillies by 16 3/4 lengths. The five-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner also saddled Triple Crown hope El Padrino for an emphatic two-length victory in a tough allowance race for 3-year-olds going two turns.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Algorithms was much the best while completing the one-turn mile contested on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:36.17. Hansen held off My Adonis for second by a half-length.

Pletcher said Algorithms benefited from a good post on the far outside.

“This race was going to tell us where we were with him, running against the 2-year-old champion,” the trainer said. “Now he’s done everything we’ve asked him to. It’s too early to say what we might do with him at this point. You can never have enough good 3-year-olds, but you hate to run them against each other.

“Now we have Discreet Dancer and this colt that are two-for-two over the track. He (Algorithms) is by Bernardini and I don’t think he’ll have distance limitations. So we just have to sort things out from here.”

This was just the third start for Algorithms and his first appearance in a stakes race. Out of the stakes-placed Cryptoclearance mare Ava Knowsthecode, he was bred by Oakbrook Farm. The $170,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase is a half brother to graded stakes winners Justin Phillip and Successful Mission.

It was a tough race for Hansen, last year’s Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) victor who was unbeaten in three career starts. The brilliant gray/roan colt stumbled from post 4 as the 4-5 favorite and was third away from the gate in the six-horse field for Ramon Dominguez.

Hanson recovered quickly, however, and moved up to get the lead from Algorithms, who left beautifully from the outside and settled nicely into second with Silver Max racing on his inside. The first quarter mile went in a deliberate :23.64 but Hansen picked up the tempo to reach the half-mile point in :45.67 with a 4 1/2-length lead. Hansen made the quarter pole in 1:10.21 with Algorithms drawing closer.

In the stretch, Hansen offered little resistance as Algorithms drew alongside nearing the furlong marker and the bay colt quickly took command. The winner drew off under urging from Castellano.

“He felt absolutely amazing today,” said Castellano, who has ridden Algorithms in all his races. “He broke so sharp and wanted to go to the lead, but I just took my time.

“I don’t think two turns will be a problem for him. I rode his father Bernardini to win the Preakness (gr. I) and other big races and, hopefully, this horse can be like that. He certainly is in the right hands with Todd Pletcher.”

Hansen, packing six pounds more than the winner with 122, saved the second spot over My Adonis and Elvis Trujillo, who trailed the field to the quarter pole.

“He has a lot of speed and he might have been a little bit fresh today, too, which is why we went a little faster than I was looking for,” Dominguez said of Hansen. “He stumbled coming out of the gate and he picked himself up pretty quickly, but sometimes that scares a horse a little bit and they go a little fast. The stumble probably didn’t help but it’s not an excuse.

“I’m not happy that he didn’t win but I’m not totally disappointed,” Dominguez added. “When he got passed he really dug in and he galloped out really well.”

Fort Loudon, Silver Max, and Consortium completed the order.

Sent off as the second choice at 5-2 odds, Algorithms was coming off a one-length win over Consortium in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming event at Gulfstream Dec. 16. He was the only starter in the Holy Bull field with a win over the main track.

Algorithms, who began his career with a 5 1/4-length win over a maiden special weight field last June going five furlongs at Belmont Park, picked up $240,000 in graded earnings with the victory. He now has a total bankroll of $301,500.

He paid $7, $2.80, and $2,40, and topped a $16.20 exacta. Hansen returned $2.20 and $2.10. My Adonis paid $4.

Hansen’s trainer, Mike Maker, was not disappointed in the favorite’s seasonal debut. “He was a little headstrong and fresh but other than that it was a good effort,” he said. “He galloped out strong so we’re pleased.”

A few races earlier, the Pletcher-trained El Padrino also stamped himself as a horse to watch on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), defeating a field of talented 3-year-olds.

The son of Pulpit   settled in fourth under Castellano along the backstretch run of the 1 1/16-mile allowance before kicking past Take Charge Indy in the stretch to win comfortably.

“He’s a nice colt. We thought a lot of him from day one,” Pletcher said. “He’s still figuring things out, but he’s a pretty talented horse who should continue to improve.”

Pletcher said the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream on Feb. 26 is a possible target for the Lets Go Stable colt. El Padrino was making his first start since a close third-place finish as the favorite in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct Nov. 26.

Take Charge Indy, who finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last start, finished second after tracking early pacesetter Bartolome along the backstretch and opening a clear lead on the turn for home. Argentine Tango finished another 13 ¾ lengths back in third. Casual Trick, the Gulfstream Park Derby runner-up and 9-5 favorite, faded to eighth in the field of nine.

Copyright © 2012 Blood-Horse Publications. Reprinted with permission of the copyright owner.
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