Irish War Cry Defeats Classic Empire in Holy Bull Stakes
By: EverythingEQ News Team
Classic Empire seemed unbeatable when looking at paper, but that was far from the case in reality. Isabelle de Tomaso’s homebred, Irish War Cry, looked every bit the unbeaten professional as he flew to the wire in the $350,000 Gr.2 Lambholm Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, handing the 2016 Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Classic Empire his second defeat.
Irish War Cry, trained by Graham Motion, took the lead immediately under jockey Joel Rosario. Cruising on what looked to be low gears, the pair led the procession through fractions of :24.14 and :47.92 while Talk Logistics and Classic Empire ran second and third, respectively. Around the final turn, Rosario sat chilly while Julien Leparoux, aboard Classic Empire, began to ask his mount for more and ran even with Talk Logistics just briefly. Up ahead, Irish War Cry shifted into higher gears, looking unbothered as he hit the wire 3 ¾ lengths ahead of Gunnevera, who closed well late, but had to settle for second. Classic Empire held on for a distant third. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race was 1:42.52.
The Holy Bull is one of many prep races of the weekend on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale. Irish War Cry currently sits in 8th on the leaderboard.
“I thought the favorite was going to show some speed but it looked like he didn’t come out of there well, and I came out of there very well, so I just kept hold of my spot,” Rosario said. “I had a good trip. He broke sharp, very nice, and he decided he wanted to go on and I just let him be happy where he was. He ran a big race.”
Irish War Cry is a New Jersey bred colt by Curlin and is out of the Polish Numbers mare Irish Sovereign. He broke his maiden in his debut at Laurel Park in November and followed that success with a win in the Marylander Stakes over the same oval on December 31. Saturday’s win brought his record to three wins from three starts and boosted his earnings to $295,460.
“He’s a really nice horse and I was obviously really high on him, but when you’re running against the juvenile champion, you have reservations. I was toying with the idea of running in the Sam Davis. I thought it might be a little easier race, because he’s so lightly raced. But the more I looked at it, the way he was working, I just thought we had to take a shot today,” trainer Graham Motion said.
The Gr.2 Fountain of Youth on March 4 and the Gr.1 Florida Derby on April 1 are possible targets for the chestnut colt, but Motion had not yet committed to either race. “I really haven’t gotten beyond today,” he stated. “I don’t know if I want to run in every race. It will be hard enough to run back in one of them, obviously, but we’ll figure it out.”