Can Classic Empire be conquered in the Holy Bull?

The Grade II, $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes highlights a terrific 12-race card at Gulfstream Park this Saturday. Going as the finale, the Holy Bull pits eight three-year-olds against last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner CLASSIC EMPIRE. The 1 1/16th-mile heat is worth 10 Kentucky Derby points to first down to one point to the 4th-place finisher. Don’t forget to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#3 CLASSIC EMPIRE (3-5, morning-line favorite) is 4-for-5 lifetime, and he might still be undefeated if he didn’t toss his rider immediately following the start in Saratoga’s Hopeful Stakes last summer. His subsequent efforts have been very strong, particularly in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. Mark Casse has CLASSIC EMPIRE training steadily for this, and he once again names Julien Leparoux to ride. CLASSIC EMPIRE projects to make the lead as #1 GUNNEVERA and #2 PERRO ROJO are devoid of early speed. Look for him to shake off #5 IRISH WAR CRY and #6 FACT FINDING on the way to a convincing win.

FACT FINDING (6-1) showed sharp speed from the rail last time out in his route debut for Todd Pletcher, crushing an overmatched field in the Smooth Air Stakes. FACT FINDING will probably lay just off the pace under John Velazquez today. He’s shown can relax is his two sprint races to date, but the undefeated colt will probably have to take this one on the chin.

GUNNEVERA (9-2) was last seen storming home from off the pace to win the Delta Jackpot under Javier Castellano. Antonio Sano has this colt by 2008 Florida Derby winner Dialed In training sharply for his three-year-old debut. Look for him to be rolling late.

#4 TALK LOGISTICS (12-1) managed third despite racing wide in his route debut, the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, last time out. His last work for Eddie Plesa Jr. was strong (a 1-for-47 bullet) and Paco Lopez maintains the mount.

The play: $1 trifecta 3/1,4,6/1,4,6, $1 trifecta 3/1,6/1,4,6 ($10)

DFJ analysis: Javier Castellano appears to be worth the money this Saturday. He has ten mounts on the Holy Bull card, including GUNNEVERA in the feature. He has five other mounts that are below 5-1 in odds.

John Velazquez rides almost exclusively for Todd Pletcher on Saturday. He has eight mounts in total, three of which are in stakes races, including FACT FINDING in the Holy Bull. He looks like another good buy.

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