Holy Bull's Legend Born 20 Years Ago

Holy Bull peered out his stall at Keeneland at the steady stream of visitors from around the country, many with their children, who had come to trainer Jimmy Croll’s barn to get a glimpse at racing’s newest sensation and hot favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

As he cocked his ears and posed for photos, he was greeted with a series of oohs and aahs.

“He’s a real ham and loves the cameras,” Croll said. “Whenever he sees a photographer, he’ll stop and pose. He’s getting smarter by the day.”

One woman from Iowa asked a question to no one in particular, hoping someone in earshot could provide an answer: “What do people look for when they breed Thoroughbreds? What is the perfect racehorse?”

Holy Bull’s groom, Bob Coffey, pointed to the gray colt looking out his stall. “Right there,” he said. “There is the perfect racehorse.”

No one could argue with him. Holy Bull had just dazzled everyone with a spectacular 5 3/4-length victory in 1:47 2/5 in the Florida Derby, earning a lofty 115 Beyer Speed Figure, and then followed that up by coasting home to an easy 3 1/2-length score in the Blue Grass Stakes, earning a 113 Beyer figure.

The Florida Derby was Holy Bull’s breakout performance, coming off a dismal effort in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, in which he displaced his palate, and was gasping for air by the half-mile pole, according to jockey Mike Smith. That, of course, brought out the critics, claiming Holy Bull was nothing more than a sprinter. He had won the seven-furlong Futurity Stakes, upsetting heavy favorite Dehere in the slop, and had to come again in the stretch after being passed by the speedy Patton to win the seven-panel Hutcheson Stakes by three-quarters of a length in 1:21 1/5. But in his only two-turn race he did romp by 7 1/2 lengths in the In Reality division of the Florida Stallion Series.

So, it was important that Holy Bull silence the doubters in the Florida Derby. He proceeded to run his opponents off their feet with a :46 flat half and 1:10 three-quarters

“The most exciting thing I ever saw was him alone on the lead Saturday,” Croll said. “After the race, he cooled out in 15 minutes and was screaming for his dinner. He cleaned out every oat and the following morning was as bright as the sun.”

Croll was expecting a huge effort from Holy Bull when the colt tuned up for the Florida Derby by working five furlongs in :59 1/5, coming home his final quarter in a sensational in :22 1/5.

“I’ve timed over 25,000 horses in my life and I’ve never seen a horse do that,” Croll said.

Holy Bull had bounced out of his Fountain of Youth debacle by working seven furlongs in 1:23 flat, coming home his final eighth in :11 1/5, galloping out a mile in 1:36 2/5.

“During his gallops, he goes in his eighths in :14, while most horses will go in :16 or :17,” Croll said. “When he was young, we didn’t have any babies who could keep up with him, so we had to gallop him by himself.”

We all know by now that Holy Bull flopped in the slop in the Kentucky Derby and was never in the race. To the day he died, Croll insisted that someone had gotten to the horse, citing the fact that he had acted unusually lethargic leading up to and including Derby Day. He’d never done that before or since.

When Holy Bull came back and annihilated a top-class field of older horses in the Met Mile, earning a spectacular 122 Beyer figure, it began a run of six straight brilliant victories not seen in many years.

I’m sure many people who have read this column over the years are familiar with the story of Holy Bull and Croll, but with the Florida Derby coming up, and the favorite, Cairo Prince, being out of a mare sired by Holy Bull, I will tell it again for those who are not familiar with it and those who only know parts of it. It’s another one of those racing stories you can’t make up and never get tired of hearing.

First off, we must begin with Holy Bull’s impact on the Sport of Kings. To his multitude of fans he was known simply as “The Bull,” and in 1994, Thoroughbred racing was the proverbial china shop. The Bull ran roughshod over any foe who dared to stand in his path. By the end of the year he had created more havoc than any bovine since Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow.

Holy Bull metaphors, like the feeble one above, became commonplace in newspapers and trade journals and he was a headline writer’s dream. The images people had of the horse were depicted on gray T-shirts designed by Daily Racing Form caricaturist Peb, which showed a raging, snorting bull with a paradoxical halo above his head. His name conjured up heavenly images, but on the racetrack he was hell on wheels. By early 1995, in addition to the T-shirts, there were Holy Bull caps and trading cards, an influx of fan mail, and several public appearances. People came from as far away as Alaska to see him.

The story of Holy Bull began some 20 years before he was even born. Trainer Warren A. “Jimmy” Croll, a veteran on the New Jersey circuit, had made only one journey on the Kentucky Derby trail, with A.I. “Butch” Savin's Royal and Regal in 1973. Two years earlier, Savin had sent Croll to the Keeneland July yearling sale with the specific purpose of finding a horse who had the potential to become a top-class stallion. After checking out a number of yearlings, Croll called Savin and told him he had found the horse he was looking for. Determined to buy him, Croll went to $220,000 for the son of Raise a Native out of Gold Digger, whom Savin named Mr. Prospector.

Brilliantly fast on the racetrack, Mr. Prospector was sent to Florida to stand following his retirement, but a short time later was moved to Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, where he became arguably the most influential stallion in the history of American breeding.

Around the time of the colt’s purchase as a yearling, Croll, who was stabled in Florida for the winter, was approached by Everett House, the live-in companion of Croll’s longtime client Rachel Carpenter. House informed Croll that Carpenter had re-written her will.

“Jimmy, I want you to know that if anything happens to the two of us, all the horses belong to you,” House said.

It was something trainers never hear and owners never do. A dumbfounded Croll always thought of the spunky Mrs. Carpenter as the type of person who would live forever, so he never gave it a second thought.

Some 20 years passed. In 1992, Croll’s son and assistant, Bill, went down to Bonnie Heath Farm in Ocala, Fla., to look at the yearlings. Croll wasn’t able to get down there that year, so he sent Bill instead. Bill watched the yearlings parade and gallop through the stretch, one of whom was a colt that his father owned, so the farm pushed him in a big way. They had videotaped all the gallops, and when they told Bill his father’s horse was a pretty nice colt, he replied, “You're out of your mind. What about the gray horse? He's the best one you’ve got. He's a standout."

House died in the early ‘90s, which deeply affected Carpenter. Each year, she would make it a point to go to Monmouth Park to visit with friends and family and see her horses. In 1993, she went to Croll’s barn on the last day of her visit. One of the horses he showed her was a homebred colt by Great Above out of the Al Hattab mare Sharon Brown, whom she had named Holy Bull. This was the same colt who had impressed Bill the year before.

“You know, this gray colt could be something special," Croll told her.

Carpenter had been ill when she visited Croll's barn that summer in ‘93, and two weeks later, on Aug. 14, she died in her sleep. Croll received the news later that morning from House's daughter, Even Tehan, who was Carpenter's secretary. Ironically, Croll had entered Holy Bull for his career debut that afternoon. He assured Tehan he would scratch the horse.

“Oh no, don't scratch him,” she said. “She wouldn't want you to do that.”

So, Croll ran Holy Bull, who won easily by 2 1/2 lengths in a sharp 1:03 4/5. Three days later, Croll received a call from Carpenter's lawyer, who said, “Jimmy, I just want to tell you that when that horse won the other day he belonged to you.” As did six other horses owned by Carpenter.

At first Croll had no idea what he was talking about, but then he remembered what House had told him 20 years earlier. Croll had felt that over that long a period of time Carpenter could have easily changed her will numerous times. But she hadn’t, so Croll, at age 74, became the owner of one of the most exciting young prospects he’d ever trained. This was someone who had bought his first horse in 1940 for $50.

Croll, of course, had no way of knowing the gift he had just unwrapped was actually Aladdin's lamp in the form of a big, battleship gray colt. By the end of the following year, the genie had granted Croll two wishes: Holy Bull was named Horse of the Year and Croll was the latest inductee into the Hall of Fame. Seven years later, a third wish was granted when Holy Bull joined his trainer in racing's pantheon of greats. But the genie wasn’t finished. In 2005, Croll watched Holy Bull’s son, Giacomo, do what his sire was unable to – win the Kentucky Derby. Now he has a chance to become the sire and broodmare sire of a Kentucky Derby winner.

Holy Bull’s career was extraordinary. Following his debut victory, he won 12 of his next 14 starts, with six of them coming in grade I stakes and three in grade II stakes. His only two losses came in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, in which he displaced his palate and lost his air, as mentioned earlier, and the Kentucky Derby, when he turned in an uncharacteristically lifeless performance that Croll always said he could explain, but “can't talk about.” Years later he began talking about it more and more. Until the day he died in 2008 at age 88, Croll was convinced that Holy Bull had been drugged. He wasn’t the only one who was suspicious. Many at the time commented how listless he seemed leading up to the race.

By the end of 1994, Holy Bull had done it all. He demonstrated extraordinary brilliance against older horses, easily winning the Met Mile and Woodward Stakes in blistering times. He annihilated 3-year-olds in the Blue Grass Stakes, Florida Derby, and Dwyer Stakes. He displayed the courage of a champion in the Travers Stakes, digging in and holding off the furious late charge of eventual Breeders' Cup Classic winner Concern, despite the presence of a rabbit to soften him up and a brutal three-quarters in 1:10 2/5. He showed the will to win by coming again to defeat the swift Patton in the Hutcheson Stakes. And he demonstrated his ability to concede weight to top-class horses by defeating graded stakes winners Meadow Flight and Concern in the Haskell Invitational Handicap, giving them eight pounds.

Of the horses he defeated in 1994, Devil His Due, Colonial Affair, Cherokee Run, Concern, Go for Gin, and Tinners Way all came back to win grade I stakes, while Tabasco Cat, Bertrando, and Meadow Flight won grade II stakes in their next start. In all, Holy Bull defeated the winners of the grade I Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont (twice), Breeders' Cup Classic, Breeders' Cup Sprint, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Whitney, Woodward, Pacific Classic (twice), and Suburban. Not many horses have shown the versatility to defeat a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, and in the same year.

In his eight victories that year, his average Beyer Speed Figure was over 115, which is remarkable for a 3-year-old. Here was a Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old male who, during his career, defeated a champion older horse, champion sprinter, and champion 2-year-old male, not to mention three classic winners and two Breeders' Cup winners.

Although the Travers was Holy Bull's narrowest margin of victory, it was the race that stamped his true greatness. No Travers winner other than Man o' War had run three-quarters faster than Holy Bull, as he had to put away Tabasco Cat's rabbit, Commanche Trail, after a half in :46 1/5 and the three-quarters in 1:10 2/5. When Concern, 22 lengths off the pace early, charged up almost on even terms with Holy Bull in the stretch, even Croll was convinced Holy Bull was beaten. Concern was a true mile and a quarter horse who would win the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year. But the tenacious Bull dug in and refused to let Concern pass him, winning by a neck. To show how brutal the pace was, Tabasco Cat, racing in third, five lengths back, finished 17 lengths behind Concern in third.

Concern's trainer Dick Small said afterward, "That was a race for the ages. I had to get out of there quick or I would have broken into tears. My horse was fresh and I really thought we had it. For Holy Bull to dig in and fight back like that after all he had to do early in the race showed that he's really something special."

What made Holy Bull such a fan favorite was that he ran as hard, as fast, and as far as he could race after race. He looked the best horses in America in the eye and left them for dead. The way he rated in the Woodward before blowing away a star-studded field by five lengths in 1:46 4/5 was nothing short of spectacular. Just try to imagine racecaller Tom Durkin's voice as he bellowed in a tone of disbelief, "Holy Bull winning like a champion...with devastating ease! Holy Bull toying with the best horses in training."

His rider, Mike Smith, put it best when he said after the race, “I'm in awe of him. I thought he grew wings at the quarter pole."

Everyone expected Holy Bull to point for the Breeders' Cup, but Croll could see some wear and tear after a long, hard year. He knew that making the Breeders' Cup would force him to miss the entire Gulfstream meet.

"I took a little heat for the decision to put him away for the year," Croll said. "But I race every year in Florida, and I felt I owed it to them to run the horse there."

Holy Bull was assigned 130 pounds on the Daily Racing Form Free Handicap, the first 3-year-old in 15 years to be weighted that high. He arrived in Florida a national hero. A headline in the Form read: “Bullmania Sweeps the Nation."

Croll brought Holy Bull back in the seven-furlong Olympic Handicap at Gulfstream and he easily defeated the classy grade I-winning sprinter Birdonthewire. Then came the Donn Handicap and a battle with an upstart named Cigar, winner of three straight, including the NYRA Mile (now the Cigar Mile). One can only speculate what would have happened had Holy Bull not pulled up on the backstretch with a career-ending injury just as he was moving up to challenge Cigar for the lead.

Racing’s Gray Goliath was retired to Jonabell Farm (now Darley at Jonabell) in Lexington, Ky. For Croll, he had received the greatest gift of all – literally. It’s been 18 years and people who saw him race still talk about the colt with reverence. They still utter superlatives when they recall his heroic feats. And if you’ve never seen this brilliant horse in action, be assured none of it is bull.

32 Comments

Leave a Comment:

txhorsefan

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  What a wonderful way to tell the story of such a horse!  I always appreciate learning from your inside information and your impeccable memories about these great horses I've missed out on by not following racing at those times.  I'll now add Holy Bull onto my list of favorites from your stories!  Thank you!

27 Mar 2014 10:20 AM
derbylin

As always, another great story, Steve.  My money was on him in the 1994 Derby.  They always said it was the Churchill Downs slop, but he had won on an off track before. I hope the idea of him being drugged isn't true.

27 Mar 2014 10:26 AM
steve from st louis

In your book "Tales From the Triple Crown", your chapter on Holy Bull raised as many questions as it answered. I guess we'll never know whether they "got" to the colt or for that matter what ever really happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

It's shocking that so little has been written on Mr. Prospector. I can't imagine buying that colt at auction and owning such a "pure flame" as Mr. Prospector was.

The most satisfying part of the Holy Bull story is that such a deserving an honorable person as Jimmy Croll was rewarded for how he ran his stable. Unbelievable.

27 Mar 2014 12:09 PM
Kelso1966

I love this horse.  He was a favorite of my Sister. Everything was Holy Bull. We went to see him in 2007 before he was pensioned.  The grooms brought him out for us, let us pet him, give him candy. And you are correct, he is a ham... He posed for us beautifully and made my sister so happy.  She died the next year.  Thanks for writing about this wonderful horse.

27 Mar 2014 12:12 PM
marapace

Love the Bull and your stories about him! And what he has been able to accomplish both on and off the track is remarkable. He still loves to pose for the camera. As my top Derby pick, Honor Code, is out, it moves my second choice Cairo Prince up to #1, who was chosen because The Bull is his BMS. Wish could post one of my favorite pics of him during my last visit here but will share with the fans on FB. Will never tire of seeing him or hearing about how great he is.

27 Mar 2014 12:22 PM
Bigtex

Steve

Keep these stories coming!  Since I started this passion of thoroughbred racing late in life, around 2003, I love learning more about the horses that predate my start.  Great, great article!

27 Mar 2014 1:05 PM
White Plains Eric

Thanks, Steve.  The '94 Travers remains one of the all-time great editions of the race, along with Tom Durkins' "but there is cause for concern" call.

27 Mar 2014 1:56 PM
JorgeG

Mr. Haskin, I started reading your columns because of him...thank you HOLY BULL, without a doubt, my all time favorite! Amazing words.

27 Mar 2014 2:10 PM
trackjack

Thanks Steve for telling this story again.  You have the ability to paint a beautiful portrait of "The Bull" and what he meant to the people around him and us fans.

My wife fell in love with Bull from the beginning and she still has a 'Holy Bull-1994 Horse of the Year' t- shirt from the Cortez Saratoga Collection of Jenness Cortez, which she wears on only very special occasions.  We also have two Fred Stone prints, one of Secretariat and the other of Holy Bull.

According to my wife, Bull had the ability to measure his foes and she recalls the time after one victory when Jimmy Croll went out to get him after a victory and after hooking a loose lead on Bull, Bull just followed Jimmy like a 'puppydog'.

After watching that 1995 Donn many, many times, I still believe that Bull ran into a foe like none he had ever raced before and had to dig down like never before, thus injuring himself, and it took a horse of the caliber of Cigar to cause that.

We were blessed in 1998 to visit Holy Bull at Jonabell, to pet him and take some pictures, what a gentleman.  We also saw Affirmed and Cherokee Run on the same visit.

Thanks again Steve.  We never tire of the memories of the great ones like Bull.  It would certainly be a crowning achievement if Cairo Prince can do it.  

27 Mar 2014 2:24 PM
JorgeG

I fulfilled one of my dreams when buying last year a daughter of the last crop of my idol HOLY BULL at the keeneland yearling sale.... With a little bit of luck and specially GOOD CARE, hopefully she could bring unforgettable moments.... can not be happier, truly a dream come true!  BULL, thanks for the memories!

27 Mar 2014 2:27 PM
Melissa P

Another great story, Steve. Holy Bull and his wonderful story are part of the golden fabric of racing. I consider some of the negative stories of today to be the selvedges to be cut away and removed lest they tarnish the brightness of the whole. The love and pure dedication that Mr. Croll had for Holy Bull show that the love of the horse can, and most often does, come before the money and the fame. I'm so glad I got to see The Bull run. I'm also glad that his racing legacy lives on. His son Bull Inthe Heather at Old Friends carries on his sire's garrulous personality.

27 Mar 2014 2:49 PM
Windolin

Now that is horse racing at its best! What a great back story. It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many heart tugging stories behind these horses. And Steve, we need televised diaries with you as the narrator reading from your writings. If that would not change the negative perception about racing, I do not know what would.

27 Mar 2014 3:10 PM
Bigtex

For those who don't know, I found pics that Steve posted from an article July 12, 2012…

Priceless pic of your daughter wearing her Holy Bull t-shirt and her hand on his nose!

cs.bloodhorse.com/.../new-life-for-holy-bull.aspx

27 Mar 2014 7:00 PM
859greg

I was there by the rail next to the starting gate for that derby,the Bull came down there with his head cocked& bowed,which seemed kind of normal,but you could tell he was not right.I had done bet him but felt a sinking feeling,you know what happened.A few years later Billy Reed wrote story about a long time track vet for churchill& other tracks.The article called DR.Fix It was published in a news letter called Snitch,I still have a copy its very interesting,& it mentioned the 1994 Derby. If you can find a copy read it,it will open your eyes.

27 Mar 2014 8:25 PM
trackjack

JorgeG:   Good luck with her!

Bigtex:   Thanks for posting the pics.

27 Mar 2014 8:28 PM
Martha Rattner

Holy Bull was my favorite in 1994. I had just moved to Kentucky and was at CD every day that I could be there before the Derby. I had first seen the grey wonder during the winter in Florida. When I saw him work on the CD track he ran like a giant mountain cat. You never heard a sound. He seemed to swallow the ground and with no effort at all. Holy Bull made it look easy. I go every January during the week of open barns and visit him. I was so glad to see he still lives in the same stall. Stories like this one are why we(horsemen) that live each day with horses can survive the downside and pray for the upside while living the dream. Almost Derby Day ! Thanks for the wonderful story.

27 Mar 2014 9:40 PM
ThoroGreats

Holy Bull was great. Interesting to note Steve, Easy Goer and Sunday Silence were ranked both in the Top 30's of all time by Bloodhorse. Holy Bull ranked #64 all time.

27 Mar 2014 9:59 PM
Racingfan

As always, great article Steve!  No wonder Mike Smith had said he was the greatest horse he had ever ridden, until Zenyatta.....  I was "taking a little break" from closely following racing during those years so what a treat to hear about him in your words!  ***Steve from St Louis, there is a book on Mr Prospector called "Gold Rush, How Mr Prospector Became Racing's Billion Dollar Sire", by Avalyn Hunter.  It has been available through Bloodhorse but they seem to be clearancing all their books so if they no longer have it you can probably find it on EBay.

27 Mar 2014 10:46 PM
TerriZ

Thanks for sharing this wonderful article about Holy Bull with us. It was really amazing that the Bull's grandson, Cairo Prince, had such a dominating victory in the race named for his grandsire. It looks like Cairo Prince might be another grandpa's boy (like Mucho Macho Man). I'm glad that Darley supports the progeny of the Bull by becoming a partial owner of Cairo Prince. And I hope that they keep him running as long as Mucho Macho Man.

27 Mar 2014 11:22 PM
hopalong

Wicked Strong wheels into NY Sunday afternoon, so long Gulfstream.

27 Mar 2014 11:40 PM
BelmontBarb

What a story! What a script!

What a pleasant sound it is to hear the name "Holy Bull" and the great ones that surrounded him as he dug in to defeat the giants of racing. Incomparable and such a fitting name.

This story also gives awareness and example of the current problems we have in the business of racing as you mention the "lethargic colt" and Jimmy Croll being suspicious that someone may have got to him.....some thing I don't think many of us heard at the time but proof that the issue is not a new one just not the same (we can go as far back as Phar Lap).

and

The Cairo Prince - Holy Bull connection is upon us in the Florida Derby and a victory here for Cairo will be ~ The Bull's spirit running through him.

What a superb piece Steve ~ showing the spirit of the game through your voice; easy to sense the sincerity and excitement you have and share with us....

Thank you so very much.  

28 Mar 2014 12:17 AM
Ranagulzion

Its been 20 years since the 3YO campaign of Holy Bull and we've not seen the likes of him since ...truly an immortal.

Had he not broken down in the 1995 Donn Handicap I think that the great Cigar would've been a lesser light than he became in Holy Bull's absence.

28 Mar 2014 4:41 PM
HolyBullet

Thanks for this story about the Bull.  I didn't know anything about him until I found out that my OTTB -- Holy Bullet -- was his offspring.  I was privileged to meet Holy Bull at Jonabell last year.  What a treat! Thanks for this article.  I especially like the part about "...His get ... tending to have minds of their own..." My horse looks exactly like pictures I pull up on line of Holy Bull; and he definitely has a mind of his own, but I wouldn't trade my Crazy Gray thoroughbred for the world.

28 Mar 2014 10:11 PM
Alydar

I am pretty sure Holy Bull was the best horse of his time. One of the best ever. Could be  Holly Bull better than Cigar? Probably YES. Wonderful horse without any doubt.

29 Mar 2014 8:11 AM
Ta Wee

When thinking of the great rivalries that were Dr. Fager-Damascus, Affirmed-Alydar, Sunday Silence-Easy Goer, and those that could've been Secretariat-Forego,Buckpasser-Graustark, the Holy Bull-Cigar one is the most recent of pure heavyweights.  Another fairly recent one that could've been was Ghostzapper-Afleet  Alex.

29 Mar 2014 8:44 AM
shaban

Holy Bull has always been one of my favorites.  I flew down to Gulfstream for that Donn and he looked fantastic in the paddock - grey coat gleaming, all sucked up and in seemingly perfect shape.  I don't know how many in the crowd even saw Cigar cross the finish line - most were watching Holy Bull being pulled up and hoping that it was not a catastrophic injury.  I still wear my Peb t-shirt to the Derby every year.  Interesting sidelight to that Donn.  The day before, Eddie Arcaro was holding court, answering questions from fans.  I asked him which Derby he considered "the one that got away", thinking that he would talk about the decision to rate Bold Ruler.  Instead, he immediately answered "Nashua".

29 Mar 2014 10:49 AM
TerriV

Love him  love him, love him!!! Thank you, Steve.

29 Mar 2014 4:42 PM
alhattab

When you read a piece of work like this remember that outstanding writers have a gift. There is nobody that comes remotely close to the racing storyteller thar Mr. Haskins is. In the summer I see Mr. Haskin at Mth Park, and every time I tell him how much I love this introduction to my beloved Monmouth Park in the Richard Stone Reeves art book, "Crown Jewels": "As you drive along the quire, tree-shaded street that leads to Monmouth Park's North Entrance, the scene suddenly changes and it's have if you have emerged from the Forbidden Forest in the Land of Oz and are gazing upon the Emerald City. Before you, in all it's pristine beauty, is the Jewel of the Jersey Shore. Awaiting you is another season of ocean breezes, family picnics, weekend activities sitting at umbrella-shaded tables overlooking the walking ring. But most important" it is a return to first-class racing the way it was meant to be enjoyed."

In those 95 words, Mr. Haskins as captured the utter essence of a day at Monmouth Park. Anyone who has been to Monmouth Park and reads those 95 words is immediately brought back to that specific time and place that IS Monmouth Park. Truly fantastic work. You have a gift Mr. Haskins that you choose to,share with is, and for that I am extremely grateful.

29 Mar 2014 11:06 PM
Ranagulzion

BelmontBarb: From a bloodhorse standpoint, Cairo Prince isn't the only colt in this 3YO crop that is a kin of Holy Bull. The potential superstar of the crop, Social Inclusion, also sired by Pioneerof The Nile,  has a lot of Holy Bull's ancestors in his pedigree: inbreeding to Mahmoud on the maternal side and Rough N'Tumble X Aspidistra (via the immortal, Dr Fager, top and bottom).

As Steve has written, Cairo Prince does give Holy Bull the opportunity to become broodmare sire of a Ketucky Derby winner (having already sired a Derby winner in Giacomo) but the chances are slim based on the facts that Cairo Prince is tottering on exclusion from the Derby with possibly insufficient points and that none of Holy Bull's daughters have to date produced an offspring that has won arace at 10 Furlongs.

Nevertheless Holy Bull's legacy will live on for years through his sons Macho Uno and Giacomo as well as grandson, Mucho Macho Man.  

30 Mar 2014 8:00 PM
Lammtarra's Arc

I am a huge Holy Bull Fan.  He is my favorite Handicap horse along with Ghostzapper from the past 24 years. Go to the lead and never get caught! All heart.

01 Apr 2014 2:46 PM
rpres43

Steve, your wonderful article sure brought back some memories.  We drove down to Calder for the Bull's In Reality and I tried to beat him.  After the race, I turned to my two friends and said "I'm never betting against that guy again"!

I was at GP for that fateful Holy Bull/Cigar Donn Hcp when the Bull was pulled up.  It was a long drive back to Orlando.  A few years later, while enjoying a cup of burgoo at Keeneland, who was standing next to me but Jimmy Croll! We had a wonderful chat about Holy Bull, and Jimmy graciously invited me out to Jonabell to see some of the Bull's first offspring, but alas I had to fly back to FL the next day. I'll always cherish that chat with that wonderful man!

01 Apr 2014 5:41 PM
Davids

Steve, although I have read this piece many times before, after hearing that Dick Small had passed away I re-read the story. Happier times.

05 Apr 2014 11:55 PM

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