Harvey Wallbanger, namesake of the popular 1970s cocktail and a nearly 30/1 long shot, set off explosive payoffs Saturday by pulling off a huge upset at the $350,000 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The Kentucky Derby aspirant keyed a $1101.70 one dollar exacta on top of Everfast, the Dale Romans trainee who was ignored by bettors at odds of just less than 130/1 in the 1 1/16 mile event.

Harvey Wallbanger at Gulfstream Park
Harvey Wallbanger blows up tote board in Kentucky Derby prep at Gulfstream Park. (Image: Kenny Martin/Coglianese Photos)

Favorites Maximus Mischief and Mihos Fail to Impress

The winner had been unraced since breaking his maiden in November at Churchill Downs. That, after three straight second place finishes before graduating to the ranks of winners for trainer Ken McPeak. The highly touted Maximus Mischief, a heavy favorite at 4/5, fought for an early lead. However, he lacked the needed response at the finish as Harvey Wallbanger on the rail and Everfast down the center of the track both reeled in the betting choice. Maximus Mischief was a disappointing third. Mihos, the second choice, finished a well-beaten sixth.

Race fans are now expecting to see all three of the top Holy Bull finishers in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 1 1/16 mile March 2, also at Gulfstream, near Miami.

Tax, Mucho Gusto Winners for Gargan and Baffert

Two other two major Kentucky Derby preps were also contested Saturday, producing winning favorites in Tax at 2/1 in the $250,000 Withers at Aqueduct for local New York trainer Danny Gargan and Mucho Gusto at 4/5 for conditioner Bob Baffert in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis. That was on a wet track at Santa Anita Park.

Gargan says Tax’s next local start is likely to be the 1 1/8 mile Wood Memorial April 6 at Aqueduct. That’s instead of the 1 mile Gotham Stakes on March 9. When and if Tax will race between the Withers and the Wood on the road to the May 4 Kentucky Derby has yet to be definitively determined.

In California, Mucho Gusto easily returned to the winners’ circle by stalking the speedy Magnificent McCool for three quarters and then drawing off to an easy nearly five length triumph. Gunmetal Gray the second choice closed strongly but never threatening the winner. Only five horses went to post in an already short field, further depleted by the scratch of Nolo Contesto. Trainer John Sadler is chosing to wait for improved track conditions before sending out his highly regarded son of Pioneerof the Nile.

Baffert’s Game Winner, the current presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite is scheduled to start next on March 9 in the1 1/16 mile, $500,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita. This will be his first race since his authoritative Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win at Churchill Downs last November. Other California-based Derby contenders, including Mucho Gusto, may ship elsewhere to avoid a showdown with the two-year-old champion

The Holy Bull, Withers and Lewis are all worth 10-4-2-1 on the Kentucky Derby points schedule used to determine Kentucky Derby eligibility. The Derby field is limited to no more than 20 starters. Purse money, points and race distance generally increase as horses vie for a coveted spot in the starting gate the first Saturday in May.

Tampa Bay Derby Ahead for Derby Hopefuls

Next stop for “Run for the Roses” hopefuls is the 1 1/6 mile, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. It’s another 10-4-2-1 Derby points prep. This is the 39th edition of the race. Nominations are headed by Knicks Go. He’s the surprise Breeders’ Futurity winner last October 6 at Keeneland and runner up to Game Winner in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The Davis serves as the lead up to the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. That’s the race used in 2007 by Street Sense  helping to propel him to Kentucky Derby glory in 2007.

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