Bulletin soars clear in the Palisades Turf Sprint at Keeneland
Anne M. Eberhardt
· By Claire Crosby
Javier Castellano's white pants didn't have a speck of dirt on them.
After cruising gate-to-wire aboard Bulletin in the $100,000 Palisades Turf Sprint Stakes April 4 on opening day of the spring meet at Keeneland, all that remained was for Castellano to pose for the win photo, do a few interviews, and meet WinStar Farm CEO and racing manager Elliott Walden for a trophy presentation.
For Walden and WinStar's partners, China Horse Club and SF Racing, the 1 1/2-length season-debut victory for the colt nicknamed "Bullet" reopened the door to dreams of a trip to Royal Ascot—an idea that percolated in November when Bulletin won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs in impressive fashion.
"We've talked about it (going to Royal Ascot) and wanted to see what happened today," Walden said. "You don't know if horses are going to come back to their form. Sometimes 2-year-olds disappoint you when they run at 3, so it's nice to see him come back to his form."
Trainer Todd Pletcher had Bulletin ready to run in his first start since Nov. 2. The City Zip colt sped to the lead after an alert beginning from post 10 in a field of 12 and maintained a clear advantage under a hand ride while setting quick fractions of :22.10, :45.65, and :57.03 and was never challenged.
"This horse did it the right way," Castellano said. "He was pretty sharp out of the gate. He's a special horse. You don't see too many horses like that. He's got so much talent. I just enjoyed the ride."
Real News closed from fifth to be second, and Abyssinian was 2 1/4 lengths back in third.
The final time for the 5 1/2-furlong 3-year-old test was 1:02.92 on turf rated firm.
Walden said the race, run for the first time Thursday, was a perfect fit for Bulletin.
"We've been looking at this for a while since the stakes calendar came out. … We circled it, hoping the weather was going to be good—April 4, you never know. But everything worked out well."
Bulletin was bred in Kentucky by CresRan out of the Woodman mare Sue's Good News and was a $250,000 purchase from Paramount Sales' consignment to the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale by WinStar's Maverick Racing and China Horse Club. He is now undefeated in three starts, with earnings of $655,570.
"He's very special, very fast," Walden said. "That's what you like to see. We're going to keep him sprinting for now, but I really think he'll stretch out to a mile as well. I don't know if he'll go further than that, but you look at him gallop out in the Breeders' Cup and you look at him today—he doesn't seem to get tired yet. He's had three starts and he's been perfect, so what else can you say? He's pretty special."
The June 21 Commonwealth Cup (G1), a six-furlong contest at Royal Ascot, could be in the cards for Bulletin. WinStar took American Patriot to the prestigious meet in 2017 (he ran 11th in the group 1 Queen Anne Stakes) and was joined by China Horse Club, SF Racing, and Head of Plains Partners to campaign Yoshida in the same event in 2018 (he finished fifth).
"We fizzled with American Patriot the first year and probably didn't belong," Walden said. "He did win the Maker's Mark Mile (G1T), but his form other than that was not great. Yoshida definitely deserved to be there and he was fifth beaten two lengths, so he gave a big thrill. We want to go with the right horse. We don't want to just go to go. This horse is definitely the right horse if he's healthy and everything. I think he'll fit really well with what they've got over there.
"It's a little tricky with these 3-year-olds that are sprinters like this on the turf," Walden continued. "There aren't that many options. There's a race at Churchill in a few weeks, there's a race at Belmont four weeks before Royal Ascot, so we'll just see how it plays out, and we might not run him again until Royal Ascot. He runs good fresh, so we've proven that when he broke his maiden first time out in a stake. He had a big gap to the Breeders' Cup and he had a big gap until today, so it's not like he's a horse that you need to run often. We'll just have to see how Todd thinks we should get to Royal Ascot, that's the main goal. … So it just depends on if we want to run him again or not (before then), and Todd will make that decision based on how he's doing."