Audible hits Kentucky Derby trail with a bang in Grade 2 Holy Bull

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Coglianese Photo

By Sarah Mace

Todd Pletcher-trained Audible hit the Kentucky Derby trail with a bang at Gulfstream Park Saturday, when he scored a dominant victory over an accomplished field of sophomores in the Grade 2, $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes. The Into Mischief colt earned 10 points toward a berth in the starting gate for the Run for the Roses, debuted at number 12 in the Derby points rankings and left his connections eager for the next step.

Campaigned by WinStar Farm in partnership with China Horse Club and SF Racing, Audible opened his account with a solid debut on September 27, coming from 18 lengths out of it after a sluggish start to finish third in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight for state-breds. The bay colt broke his maiden going a mile around one turn at Aqueduct with stalking tactics and, most recently, demolished open company allowance foes by 9 3/4 lengths in another one-turn mile contest.

Initially pointed to the Damon Runyon, Audible’s stakes debut was rerouted from Ozone Park to Hallandale Beach by weather. As Pletcher explained, “We actually brought him down [to Florida] a little bit later because we were entered in the [Damon Runyon, scheduled for December 30], and then all the bad weather hit in New York and it got delayed and carried over [until January 15]. Elliott Walden said, ‘Why don’t we just take him down to Florida and see how he trains and go from there.’ Maybe it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”

Pletcher added, “He shipped in great, he trained really well when he got here so it kind of made it an easy decision that this was an easy race to target.”

Reunited with jockey Javier Castellano, aboard for the allowance win, Audible got respect from the bettors for his two-turn debut and class test, going off at odds of 3-1 along with Free Drop Billy and Tiz Mischief, behind 9-5 favorite Enticed.

Out of the gate well from post four, Audible entered the clubhouse turn four-wide, but maneuvered agilely over into the two path while rounding the bend, setting up in third behind dueling longshots Master Manipulator and Aequor through an opening quarter in 23.59 and half in 47.14.

Coglianese Photo/Leslie Martin

Moving out a path and into second in the approach to the far turn, then and up to challenge pacesetter Master Manipulator, Audible took over the lead midway around, only to be challenged by Free Drop Billy who got on even terms at the quarter pole.

What looked to become an epic stretch-long battle never materialized. Audible kicked away to score an eye-catching 5 1/2-length victory in a sharp final time of 1:41.92 for 1 1/16 miles. Free Drop Billy in second finished 7 3/4 lengths in advance of Tiz Mischief in third, while Enticed had to settle for fourth.

An enthusiastic Castellano said, “I love the way he did it today, compared to our last race, because his last race he was still developing and bit laid back. I really had to ride him last time out and he’d give it to you. Today he was sharp and had tactical speed in the race and we could move, and he’d give me everything I asked of him.”

Castellano added, “I love these kinds of horses, you don’t get in trouble with them, where you can move quick and can put them in a good position. I love the way he did it today. I think Todd did a great job developing this horse and to win the way he did today is very impressive. It’s only a mile and sixteenth today, but the way he galloped out was amazing. I look forward to the next race.”

Pletcher was also pleased with the stretch-out, “We felt like he wanted more ground and he kind of showed that in his first race when he didn’t get away real quickly and retreated when the dirt hit him in the face and then rallied with a pretty strong effort. Then he came back and won two pretty impressive races after that, so we felt like more distance was definitely what he was looking for.”

Commenting on Audible’s strong finish, Pletcher said, “He really kicked. Javier said he kept him to task because he was kind of looking around a little bit and saw the tire marks and he didn’t want him to make a mistake. He really accelerated. The final time was quite good.”

Pletcher is already thinking about how to prepare his charge to compete on even bigger stages: “I think the question now is do you run him two more times or one more time and we’ll let him tell us kind of how he bounces out of this.”

Fasig-Tipton Photo

The conditioner continued, “He’s a very kind horse to train, very easy on himself in the morning. I love the way he came over here and handled everything. He was perfect in the paddock, post parade, gate – all those little intangibles that really help with horses that are pointing for big days.”

Bred by Richard Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, LLC and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Audible is a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, where he was purchased from Winter Quarter Farm by 4H for $175,000.

When presented to the world as a juvenile at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, China Horse Club and WinStar Farm had to go to $500,000 to buy him.

At the time of the sale WinStar president Elliott Walden said, “I just liked everything about him, his pedigree, the way he moved and the way he galloped out. Very classy horse. [The price] was a little high, but those kind of colts bring that kind of range, so I thought it was okay.”

Audible’s dam Blue Devil Bel, bred and campaigned in New York by Leahy, is a multiple winner and six-figure earner by Gilded Time and a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and stakes producer Akilina. Blue Devil Bel has yearling filly by Lookin At Lucky and was bred in 2017 to Constitution.

From three wins and a third in four starts Audible has earned $287,720.

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