Hades Lived Up to Expectations in G3 Holy Bull Upset

February 4, 2024

Joe Orseno after Hades’ victory in the Holy Bull (Lauren King)

David Joseph/Gulfstream Park

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— D J Stable LLC and Robert Cotran’s Hades took a lot of bettors and heavily favorite Fierceness by surprise with his 9-1 upset victory in Saturday’s $250,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Joe Orseno, however, was understandably ecstatic about Hades’ gutsy and decisive triumph in the important prep for the March 30 Curlin Floridia Derby (G1) but hardly taken by surprise by

“I bought him with some high expectations, and he lived up to them,” said Orseno, whose Florida-bred trainee is undefeated in three starts.

The 3-year-old gelded son of Awesome Slew took advantage of his rail post position for the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull to cut the corner on the first turn and take the lead into the backstretch. Meanwhile, Fierceness, the 2023 Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male who was sent to post at 1-5 odds, was floated three-wide on the turn after experiencing light bumping following the break. Hades showed the way along the backstretch under pressure from Inveigled before Fierceness advanced to engage the pacesetter going into the far turn. Fierceness poked his head in front on the turn, but Hades battled back under Paco Lopez in the stretch and drew clear to win by two lengths.

“At the top of the stretch, when he changes leads, he finds another gear. He galloped out really strong. I don’t think we got to the bottom of him yet,” Orseno said. “We’re real happy with him, especially the way he looked this morning.”

Fierceness, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) by 6 ¼ lengths in his prior start, faded to third under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, 1 ½ lengths behind a late-running Domestic Product.

Hall of Fame trainer reported Sunday morning that Fierceness exited the Holy Bull ‘in good order.’

Hades had overcome bumping at the start of his Dec. 9 debut at Gulfstream Park, closing from well back to get up in time to win a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight race at Gulfstream. The 3-year-old gelding, who was purchased for $130,000 at the 2022 OBS April sale, had a much easier time of things in his return in a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance, shaking off early pressure while setting the back and drawing away to an eight-length romp.

His next start on the road to the Curlin Florida Derby and the 2024 Triple Crown has not been decided. The $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) is scheduled for March 2.

“There’s no question it will be the Fountain of Youth or the Florida Derby. I think it will be only one, but I don’t know which one it will be yet,” Orseno said. “He’s lightly raced. He’s only run 5 ½ [furlongs] and 7, and [Saturday] two turns. I think that being said. We have the opportunity to have a fresh horse on the first Saturday in May.”

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