HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Trainer Todd Pletcher called a bit of an audible when bringing his talented New York-bred Audible down to south Florida a little earlier than originally planned due to the inclement weather and spate of cancellations at Aqueduct earlier this winter. It was a decision that paid big dividends as the colt exploded through the stretch to an eye-catching 5 1/2-length victory over Free Drop Billy in Saturday's Grade 2, $350,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park.
Pletcher said his original plan was to run Audible in a New York-bred stakes and then bring him down to Florida. But after that race got delayed and carried over, Pletcher said he and the owners came up with a different strategy and brought him down to Florida early.
"We felt like we had talent and we were trying to decide which direction to go. We knew we wanted to get him down here, especially when the weather got bad, mainly to have a more reliable training schedule," said Pletcher. "Maybe it turned out to be a blessing in disguise."
Audible broke alertly in the Holy Bull and raced forwardly placed from the outset under Javier Castellano behind the pace-setting pair of Master Manipulator and Aequor. Audible moved readily to command midway on the second turn, withstood a bid from Free Drop Billy into the stretch, shook free nearing the furlong grounds then drew away with complete authority when sharply roused and kept about his business by Castellano through the final furlong.
Free Drop Billy, making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, engaged the leader approaching the quarter pole but ultimately proved no match while easily best of the rest, finishing 7 3/4 lengths in front of his uncoupled stable mate Tiz Mischief for second. Enticed, the 19-10 favorite in a scratch-reduced field of nine 3-year-olds, raced within easy striking distance near the inside for six furlongs before dropping back steadily thereafter, checking home a disappointing fourth nearly 15 lengths behind the winner.
Audible, a son of Into Mischief, is owned in partnership by WinStar Farm and the China Horse Club International. His final time of 1:41.92 seconds for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track that took on a modest amount of rain shortly before dawn, was less than a second off the course record.
Audible paid $8.40 for his third win in four career starts.
"We felt like he's wanted more ground, 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, then rallied with a pretty strong effort," said Pletcher. "Then he came back and ran two pretty impressive races after that. He really kicked today. Javier said he kind of kept him to task because he was looking around a little bit, saw the tire marks, and didn't want him to make a mistake. He really accelerated. The final time was pretty good over a track that did tighten up after taking on some water this morning but which wasn't producing super fast times on the day."
Pletcher said it's too early to speculate on when or where Audible might run next.
"The question is now, do you run him two more times or just once more before the Derby?" said Pletcher. "We'll let him kind of tell us. We'll see how he bounces out of this. He's a very kind horse to train, 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, and gate. All those little intangibles that really help with horses that you are pointing for big days."
Dale Romans said he felt both his horses, Free Drop Billy and Tiz Mischief, ran well coming off layoffs for their 3-year-old debuts.
"A stepping-stone to the next ones," said Romans.
Neil McLaughlin, assistant to his brother Kiaran, said of Enticed's effort, "It's part of the process. He's been away for awhile. This is just the first one back."
-- additional reporting by Marty McGee