Bolt d’Oro earned the win at the 2018 San Felipe. Well…sort of.
By the third-quarter pole, McKinzie and Bolt d’Oro turned the 2018 San Felipe in to a showdown between them. McKinzie broke first and gained the inside path, and while he travelled in close quarters with his rival during the entire homestretch there was nothing suspicious about what happened. The two matched each other stride-for-stride the whole way but McKinzie held on to his lead and was able to win by a head. It was an absolute thriller.
However, signals flashed that a review was underway concerning that homestretch battle. In the end (and it took a while for the officials to come to their final conclusions), it was ruled that McKinzie had strayed off his path and impacted Bolt d’Oro’s ability to win the race. Offical Scott Chaney noted that, “The videotape showed over the last sixteenth, the inside horse, McKinzie, was drifting out—probably about two paths—forcing (Bolt d’Oro) off his path, costing him the opportunity to gain the head he lost by.”
There was an initial incident at the top of the homestretch where it appeared as if Bolt d’Oro checked in to McKinzie and sent him towards the rail, but review of that yielded nothing conclusive. Chaney admitted that if they had found Bolt d’Oro to be at fault, the penalties would have cancelled each other out. Unfortunately for McKinzie, that wasn’t the decision. The 2018 San Felipe Stakes results were thus reversed, handing the win to Bolt d’Oro. Thanaka, a 6/1 outsider who was given the only respectable odds in the field outside of the two favorites, finished a distant third.
Rider Mike Smith argued against the decision saying, “I was just trying to ride my own race, and he was on top of me. At the quarter pole, after the quarter pole, and through the lane, he hit me and turned me out. I mean, he’s got the whole racetrack and he’s on top of me on the fence.”
Bob Baffert, who trains McKinzie, was incenced with the 2018 San Felipe Stakes decision and was much more colourful in his language. Mick Ruis was more diplomatic about the call. “I wasn’t even thinking about the inquiry the whole time,” Ruis explained. “I was just so proud of Bolt, and if he got moved up, he did. This wasn’t the race we were really pointing for. We want to go to the Santa Anita Derby, but getting moved up is awesome.”
If both of these competitors head to the 2018 Santa Anita Derby, there will be a thick sense of blood in the air. This rivalry isn’t over by a longshot and the derby trail just got even hotter.
The win does boost Bolt d’Oro’s stock after he placed third in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in large part to a poor path that sent him wide on both turns. The 2018 San Felipe, while dubious, has at least proven that he has the “stuff”. Unfortunately for the top rated three-year-old, this race also proved that McKinzie is right there with him.
Check out the 2018 San Felipe replay and decide for yourself.