Prime Factor can make the grade in Holy Bull

The Grade III, $200,000 Holy Bull Stakes is the Saturday feature at Gulfstream Park. A 17-point race (10-4-2-1 format) for the Kentucky Derby, this 1 1/16th-mile heat drew a field of nine. That includes Todd Pletcher’s impressive debut winner PRIME FACTOR. Post time for the Holy Bull, the 11th of 12 races at Gulfstream this Saturday, is 4:50 p.m. ET.

#6 PRIME FACTOR (3-1) instantly stamped himself as a Kentucky Derby contender when he won his debut by 8 3/4-lengths last month over this course. Unraced since that smashing six-furlong effort, PRIME FACTOR drilled a pair of stamina-building five-furlong bullets for the Holy Bull. This Pletcher pupil is by Quality Road out of a Bernardini mare, so distance influence abounds.

The price may not be that appealing, but don’t be surprised if PRIME FACTOR aces this two-turn test. Irad Ortiz Jr., the meet’s leading rider through Thursday, will be in the irons.

#3 PAPETU (15-1) outran his odds when he reported home second at 20-1 in Gulfstream’s Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 2. It wasn’t a bad effort at all considering he hadn’t raced since September.

PAPETU clearly needed some time to mature after showing some precocity against lesser foes before flopping in two races at the graded stakes level. With the rust shaken off, PAPETU looks dangerous in the Holy Bull. Don’t be surprised if he gives PRIME FACTOR a run for his money under Leonel Reyes.

#7 GREATEST HONOUR (5-2, morning-line favorite) is worth including in the lower rungs of the exotics. He finally earned his diploma in his fourth try against maidens last time out. GREATEST HONOUR settled for minor awards in his first three lifetime efforts. Jose Ortiz has the call.

The play: $4 exacta box 3/6, $4 exacta 6/3,7, $4 win 3 ($20)

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