Plenty of horse players have been waiting for the 2018 debut of Bolt d’Oro and that comes Saturday in the running of the San Felipe at Santa Anita.
Trainer Mick Ruis has said Bolt d’Oro will not run on a off track and with the weather forecast for 100 percent rain, the track may very well be muddy.
Bolt d’Oro (2-1) has been off since running third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as the favorite. Before then the horse was 3-for-3, all impressive wins, two in Grade I events. His works for the race have been sizzling, including the best of 93 on March 5. If he does scratch, expect to see him in the Rebel next Saturday at Oaklawn.
McKinzie (8-5) is actually the favorite for the race. Mike Smith rides for Bob Baffert on the popular horse that easily won the Sham over the Santa Anita track in early January. After a lackluster performance in the Los Alamitos Futurity in December, the win in the Sham stamped McKinzie as a legit Derby contender.
Kanthaka (4-1) is another talented runner from the Jerry Hollendorfer barn and must be given a long look. An easy win in the San Vincente at 11-1 has thrust the horse into Derby talk. The question to be answered Saturday is can he handle the distance. His longest race thus far has been seven furlongs, so many will take a wait and see approach.
There is not a horse in the field with off-track experience so heavy rain will make for interesting wagering.
Lombo (8-1) did get the win in the Lewis at almost 9-1, beating Ayacara (8-1), another entry by two lengths.
Given that Free Drop Billy and Enticed finally were able to avoid the bad weather and get to New York from Florida has made the Gotham a much better race.
It’s an interesting morning line as Free Drop Billy (7-5) is favored despite winning only once in his last five starts. In his last start he was second in the Holy Bull, losing to an impressive performance from Audible. He scratched out of the Fountain of Youth last week for this race as trainer Dale Romans feels much better about running here.
Firenze Fire (5-2) is the second choice and is at home running in New York. In his last start he was second to Avery Island in the Withers over the track at Aqueduct. Before then he won as the heavy favorite in the Jerome, also at Aqueduct. A win here locks up a spot in the Derby.
Enticed (7-2) rounds out the favorites. He was a badly beaten fourth as the favorite in the Holy Bull and it will be interesting to see if the runner from his first three starts returns or whether that last effort is indicative of where he is.
The winner will likely come from the three favorites, but if you are looking for a price, take a gander at Beautiful Shot (8-1). The California shipper has won two of three starts and was most recently third in the Bob Hope back in November, running behind Greyvitos and Mourinho. Before that he won two straight, beating Mourinho in the Speakeasy at Santa Anita. Keith Desormeaux made the decision to ship the horse across the country and he may be live.
Tampa Bay Derby
With the defection of Enticed and Free Drop Billy to New York, this race got boring.
Flameaway (3-1) is likely to be the favorite and has won two straight, including the Sam Davis over the Tampa track at 10-1. The Mark Casse runner has won five of seven career starts.
Vino Rosso (4-1) will be another popular horse with the bettors but is that because he hails from the Todd Pletcher barn or because he is that good of a horse. Perhaps a little of both. Third in the Davis, the horse had won both starts before the even, uninspired effort in the Davis.
World of Trouble (5-1) has won twice in three starts, including a 13-length win in his last start over the Tampa track, although it was a questionable field for a stakes race.
Untamed Domain (6-1) will draw some interest despite winning only once in his last four starts.
If you can’t tell, I am less than enthralled by the field, so much in fact, I am considering throwing some cash on Grandpa Knows Best (30-1). The horse has two straight wins – the last an optional claimer and is fully deserving of his 30-1, but this could be one of those preps someone comes from out of the clouds.
By Dennis Miller