Hallandale Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Saturday's $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park will not only be the 2014 debut for trainer Shug McGaughey's Mr Speaker, but more importantly will mark the colt's first start on a dirt track.
"He's trained good on the dirt. I thought somewhere along the line I was going to give him this kind of opportunity," McGaughey said about the colt owned by Phipps Stable. "I didn't know it was going to be now but this is something I did have on my mind to give him the opportunity."
Mr Speaker has four starts on the turf coming into the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull. He was sixth and third, respectively, in his first two starts last August and September. He broke his maiden at Belmont Park on Oct. 14 and captured the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream on Dec. 21.
"I think he's equipped to make the jump. It's a matter whether he'll make the jump from turf to dirt. He's already done it on the turf. He went from a maiden to a Grade 3," said McGaughey. "We'll just have to see if he does it on the dirt."
Mr Speaker drew post 6 in the 11-horse field with Jose Lezcano back to ride. Lezcano guided the colt to victory in the Dania Beach. McGaughey's colt is the 5-1 third choice and is just inside of 3-1 morning-line favorite Cairo Prince in the starting gate.
Here is the field for the Holy Bull in post position order: Coup de Grace, John Velazquez, 4-1; Financial Mogul, Jose Ortiz, 10-1; Best Plan Yet, Edgard Zayas, 20-1; Almost Famous, Calvin Borel, 8-1; Our Caravan, Corey Lanerie, 15-1; Mr Speaker, Jose Lezcano, 5-1; Cairo Prince, Luis Saez, 3-1; Wicked Strong, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Conquest Titan, Shaun Bridgmohan, 12-1; Big Bazinga, Joe Bravo, 20-1 and Intense Holiday, Joel Rosario, 6-1.
The Holy Bull has an approximate post-time of 5:03 p.m. (ET).