Balooga Bull~ Comeback Kid
Pedigree: Flashy Bull-Proud Crusader by Crusader Sword
Owner: Paul Brandt Trainer: Ardell Sayler Jockey: Paul Nolan
Can one of the fastest 2-year-olds ever seen at Assiniboia Downs bounce back from his only career loss in the biggest race of his life? There’s good reason to believe he can. And this time we’ll get some odds on him.
At first glance it appeared as if Balooga Bull came up flat in his initial route attempt in the Harry Jeffrey Stakes on July 14, after setting a dawdling early pace by his standards. But if you watch the replay closely he does actually try to come back at his rivals in the stretch before tiring.
There’s a good possibility that Balooga Bull learned something from that race while also getting a tightener for the Derby, and handicapping logic says he could return to top form in the Manitoba Lotteries Derby.
Purchased for just $2,000 at a Kentucky yearling sale by 10-time leading Assiniboia Downs trainer Ardell Sayler, the bay 3-year-old gelding by Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) winner Flashy Bull easily won the Graduation Stakes last year and followed up with a 7 ¾-length win in the Winnipeg Futurity in a sizzling 1:10.60, the fastest six furlongs of 2011 at Assiniboia Downs.
This year, Balooga Bull responded gamely to win his first start against fit horses and came back with a 2 ¾-length win in the $30,000 Golden Boy Stakes, getting the six furlongs in quick 1:10.80 over fellow Derby entrants Pleasant Closing and So Shiny. His perfect 6-for-6 record was tarnished when he finished third beaten 3 ¾-lengths by those same rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Harry Jeffrey, and marked the first time he had missed the Winner’s Circle in seven starts en route to earning over $100,000 for owner Paul Brandt, a rancher from Onida, South Dakota.
It could be that he just needed a start over a route of ground to get his bearings. Sayler, who saddled Gotatigerbythetail to finish third in the 2011 Manitoba Derby, thinks his horse would have benefitted from a prep race before the loss. He might be right.
Balooga Bull will be ridden in the Derby by regular rider Paul Nolan, currently second in the local jockey standings with 43 wins. The former leading rider at Canterbury Park and Sam Houston is winning at a 20% clip and he rarely makes mistakes, especially in the big races.
If he’s got the horse, watch out.