Though the race won’t run until March 10th, the 2018 San Felipe field is already beginning to take shape and it’s going to be a definitive race on the derby trail. The most popular pick to lead the fray in the 2018 Kentucky Derby is Bolt d’Oro who will make a late season debut but he’ll be facing a hot up and comer who recently made short work of the 2018 Sham Stakes.
McKinzie blitzed the 2018 Sham Stakes easily, winning by a large margin as a heavy 1/5 favorite. He showed his incredible closing speed as he crushed the mile long contest unchallenged by anyone in the seven-horse field. Running for the first time with blinders, McKinzie also seemed much more relaxed and poised and sat back perfectly off the pace before making his move at the three-quarter pole by surpassing All Out Blitz, the pace setting front runner who ended up second.
The connections for McKinzie indicated that the colt would join the 2018 San Felipe field, and that means that he will go right up against the top ranked three-year-old in the entire age grade.
Mark Ruis took Bolt D’Oro out at Santa Anita for a gallop as the horse recovered from some injuries that resulted in a poor performance in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, a race that he was favored to win but came a disappointing third after rallying on the far outside. The trainer and owner said that Bolt d’Oro “was a little stiff and off for three days because we wanted to be really careful, and sure nothing was wrong. We gave him a good scan, he came back fine and is back galloping.”
The intenstions were made clear as Bolt d’Oro will be nominated to the 2018 San Felipe field in order to prep for the m $1 million dollar Santa Anita Derby. “My first preference would be to run in the San Felipe and then the Santa Anita Derby, because I would love to stay here and run where we’ve been stabled, and it looks like we’d do that, for sure.”
Timing for Bolt d’Oro and the San Felipe Stakes works out for his recovery and training schedule as well despite it coming up late in the prep race season. “I’d love to get a race in beforehand,” Ruis explained, ”but I don’t think that’s going to work time wise. So it’s looking like the San Felipe and then the Santa Anita Derby. That was my original plan anyway, until I was going to try and squeeze another race in there to sharpen him up, but it looks like I’ll have to do that with a couple of works in company.”
There will be others looking to play spoiler in the 2018 San Felipe field, and Bolt d’Oro does not have the. aura of invincibility that he once did. Facing off a known, homestretch speedster like McKinzie will test his limits. A lot can change between a two-year-old season and the three-year-old year, but Bolt d’Oro has done enough to retain most peoples’ faith. Whether you’re amongst them is up to you.