Cairo Prince cemented his Kentucky Derby dreams with a 5 ¾ win in Saturday’s $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. The Kiaran McLaughlin runner now sits second behind Honor Code with 14 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, the points system that determines Kentucky Derby entries. As long as the horse maintains his form, he’s most likely assured of making it into the 20-horse field.
“Obviously, we’re holding a strong hand with this colt,” said McLaughlin. “We feel very confident moving forward. You just hope we keep going forward because things happen to horses all the time. We just want to keep him the same happy and healthy horse and keep going.”
Sent off as the favorite at odds of 2-1, Cairo Prince and jockey Luis Saez sat patiently mid-pack as the frontrunners, Almost Famous and Coup de Grace, took the field of 11 around the 1 1/16 mile course. As the horses reached the final turn, Coup de Grace was checked and dropped back along the rail and Cairo Prince made his move on the outside. At the top of the stretch, Cairo Prince powered past his competition and left them in the dust, finishing nearly six lengths in front. Conquest Titan and Intense Holiday closed late to finish a half-length apart in second and third, respectively. Almost Famous held on for fourth.
“He broke so well and the whole race I kept him in the clear,” said Saez. “When we got to the half-mile pole, I know I have a lot of horse. When we got to the three-eighths pole, I knew I could win the race so when we came into the stretch I asked him and he responded. He just took off. I had so much horse. He’s a nice horse.”
Mark Casse said of his runner-up, Conquest Titan, “We had hoped to not be so far back, but going into the first turn, they sandwiched him, so Shaun (Bridgmohan) did the right thing and took him back. This is not the easiest place to come from out of it. We wanted to know if he fit with these horses and I think he proved that today.”
McLaughlin reported the day after Cairo Prince’s Holy Bull win that the Pioneerof the Nile colt was doing well, and the team was planning their next move. McLaughlin and owners Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey A. Clarke, and W. Craig Robertson III teamed to take Soldat to an 11th place finish in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. It appears they would have a chance at a better Kentucky Derby finish with Cairo Prince.
“Obviously, the Fountain of Youth is next here in the series, so that’s what we’re going to look at,” said McLaughlin. “He’s a really, really nice horse, the kind everybody gets up early every day to come out and train. He makes our job easy.”
Cairo Prince returned $6.20, $4.40, and $3.20. Conquest Titan paid $8.60 and $4.80 and completed the $2 exacta for $69.40. Intense Holiday paid $6.40 and completed the $1 trifecta for $283.60. Almost Famous completed the $1 superfecta for $2,237.60. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race over the fast dirt was 1:42.16.
Photo: Courtesy NYRA.com