Bolt d’ Oro and McKinzie Duel could be over Sloppy Track at Santa Anita
It’s raining in Arcadia, California today, as the Road to the Kentucky Derby continues with the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita. The much anticipated duel between two highly-regarded Derby contenders Bolt d’ Oro (2-1) and McKinzie (8-5) will have more to consider with a potential sloppy track. A field of 8 is scheduled to run in the San Felipe, and there are some other top Grade 1 races Saturday at Santa Anita which includes last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile winner World Approval running in the Frank Kilroe Mile. World Approval enters with 4-straight wins including three Grade 1’s, and has won 12-of-25 lifetime starts for trainer Mark Casse with more than $3 million in earnings.
Bolt d’ Oro has won 3-of-4 career starts and makes his 2018 debut as a 3-year-old. He finished 3rd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in November at Del Mar as the 3-5 favorite, while McKinzie is 3-for-3 having last won the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Jan. 6 as the heavy 1-5 betting choice.
Bolt d’ Oro has posted a pair of bullet works in the mornings at Santa Anita the past two weeks, but trainer Mick Ruis has him working more towards the Santa Anita Derby and hopefully the Kentucky Derby. He had some minor strained muscle issues late last year which has caused a less-than-ideal training schedule. Still, a 1st or 2nd place finish in the San Felipe will secure his spot in the Kentucky Derby, as Bolt d’ Oro currently has 14 points in the 2018 Kentucky Derby points standings. With a clean break from the rail, Bolt d’ Oro should be pressing the front-runner Calexman (30-1) who could carry the lead to a piece of the pie at long odds. Aquila (15-1) may be a more viable longshot, as the rapidly-improving Union Rags colt earned a top speed figure last time out breaking his maiden at the same 1 1/16 mile distance over the Santa Anita surface.
But the most dangerous aside from the top-2 is Ayacara (GB) who at 8-1 is one to include in your exotics. A good looking son of Violence, Ayacara had a breakthrough effort last time out finishing 2nd from off the pace in the Derby prep Robert B. Lewis (G2) and galloping out well. Working super for trainer Keith Desormeaux and rider Kent Desormeaux.
Although Bolt d’ Oro has 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.”
McKinzie is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, and he’s No. 6 in the standings with 20 points. He has a slight conditioning edge and has been training very well at Santa Anita with a pair of bullet works himself over 6 and 7 furlongs. He’ll be sitting just off the flank of the leaders looking to track and pounce as they turn for home.
If you’re looking for some extra info and tipsheets to guide you in the San Felipe or two other Kentucky Derby preps running Saturday, the Gotham (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2), then check out the Twinspires.com blog and get your bets in for a big day of racing and Kentucky Derby prep races!
Post time for the San Felipe Stakes is 5:53 ET on Saturday, March 10.