ALL IMPORTANT PREP FOR GRADE I, $1 MILLION SANTA ANITA DERBY CARRIES 85 KENTUCKY DERBY QUALIFYING POINTS, WITH 50 TO THE WINNER
ARCADIA, Calif. (March 7, 2018)–It’s showdown time Saturday at Santa Anita, as top Derby prospects McKinzie and Bolt d’Oro head a field of eight sophomores in the Grade II, $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at a mile and one sixteenth. The final major steppingstone to the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby April 7, the San Felipe will award 85 all-important Kentucky Derby qualifying points–with 50 to the winner and 20, 10 and five points to the second, third and fourth place finishers.
Trained by Bob Baffert, McKinzie, a rousing 5 ½ length first-out maiden winner going seven furlongs here on Oct. 28, was subsequently second, beaten three quarters of a length in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity going 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 9, but was awarded the win when his stablemate Solomini was disqualified for interference in deep stretch. A Kentucky-bred colt by Street Sense, he’s trained in exceptional manner for Baffert since his Futurity victory and merits top billing on Saturday.
Owned and trained by Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro was undefeated in three starts, including a pair of Grade I wins, going into the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 4, but was compromised by an outside draw and finished third, beaten 5 ¼ lengths by eventual Eclipse Champion 2-year-old, Good Magic.
Sidelined by what was described as a muscle pull following the Juvenile, Bolt d’Oro had his first recorded work here on Jan. 27 and has trained forwardly, with his most recent drill a snappy half mile in 46.40 Monday morning with Victor Espinoza aboard.
Highly respected longtime private clocker Gary Young assessed “Bolt’s” work thusly following training hours on Monday: “He looked terrific,” said Young. “No one could knock the way he worked today, it was perfect. It looks like the stage is set for Saturday. McKinzie worked great yesterday (Sunday, seven furlongs in 1:23.80), so the two favorites come into this race really good.”
Owner: Mike Pegram Karl Watson and Paul Weitman Trainer: Bob Baffert
A sentimental favorite for Baffert and many others, he’s named for longtime Los Alamitos executive and Baffert confidant Brad McKinzie, who passed away at age 62 following a lengthy illness this past August. Purchased as a $170,000 Keeneland September yearling, he would appear to rate an advantage over Bolt d’Oro at this point in time due to the fact Baffert has not missed any training with him since his Grade I win on Dec. 9. With “Big Money” Mike Smith set to ride him back, McKinzie is obviously in the best of racing hands, as he and Baffert are considered by many to be the best in their respective fields of endeavor. Although he was stretching out for the first time, the naturally quick McKinzie was relaxed early with Smith in his Los Alamitos win and it would appear he’s eligible to improve as the distances get longer.
Owner: Mick Ruis Trainer: Mick Ruis
A winner of the Grade I, seven furlong Del Mar Futurity in his second start on Sept. 4, this incredibly talented colt by Medaglia d’Oro breezed to a 7 ¾ length win here in the Grade I, 1 1/16 miles FrontRunner Stakes Sept. 30 and was the heavy 3-5 favorite among 12 horses in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 4. Parked wide the entire trip from his number 11 post position, Bolt d’Oro finished gallantly to be third and in the opinion of many, remained 2017’s top 2-year-old. With regular pilot Corey Nakatani and Ruis parting company in early January, Ruis sought out four-time Eclipse Champion Javier Castellano for Saturday’s San Felipe and flew Castellano west to work “Bolt” six furlongs out of the gate in 1:12 flat on Feb. 26–a work in which he broke tardily, which has been an issue in two of his starts. With Victor Espinoza hoping to take over in either the Santa Anita Derby April 7, or the Run for the Roses May 5, Bolt d’Oro was all business Monday morning, perhaps an indicator that his gate issues are behind him. Although he’s now had seven recorded works dating back to Jan. 27, Ruis indicated Monday morning that his primary objectives lie beyond Saturday’s San Felipe: “We’ve got a plan,” he said. “The San Felipe isn’t really the race we’re point for…He’s got a lotta talent. He’ll be really good in the Santa Anita Derby.”
THE GRADE II, $400,000 SAN FELIPE STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 6 of 11 Approximate post time 2:30 p.m. PT
- Bolt d’Oro–Javier Castellano -124
- Lombo–Rafael Bejarano–122
- Ayacara–Kent Desormeaux–120
- McKinzie–Mike Smith–124
- Aquila–Martin Pedroza–120
- Calexman–Alonso Quinonez–120
- Peace–Drayden Van Dyke–120
- Kanthaka–Flavien Prat–120
Special early first post time for and 11-race card that will include the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, the Grade I Frank E. Kilroe Mile and the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes on Saturday is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. For additional information, please visit www.santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.