Bolt d’Oro is getting a fair bit of news ahead of his highly anticipated season debut in the 2018 San Felipe Stakes. The Baffert colt remains the highest rated three-year-old in the rankings, despite Good Magic’s collection of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2 Year Old of the Year, but he has to put the work in on the track to invigorate his backers after a poor showing in the world championships. Part of the rebuilding process apparently includes switching riders to Javier Castellano.
The move means that Corey Nakatami has apparently lost his job despite riding Bolt d’Oro in all four of his starts. The colt is 3-0-1 so far. “We just wanted to ride Javier instead,” said Mick Ruis who owns and trains Bolt d’Oro. “It’s nothing against Corey. It’s what we feel is best for Bolt. Corey is still riding for us. He’s still riding Union Strike and One Fast Broad.” Union Strike finished 7th to open the year in the 2018 La Canada Stakes.
Matt Nakatami, who is both the son and agent of the esteemed rider responded in saying, “I’m going to talk to my dad about it, but he’s had a Hall of Fame career. And the last thing I’m going to do is ask him to be an exercise rider.” That’s probably a smart decision.
Javier Castellano is one of the best jockey’s in the world and recently rode West Coast in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup for Bob Baffert, finishing a respectable second behind Gun Runner. The rider has not been yet associated with a top contending three-year-old on the Road to the Kentucky Derby but now he is suddenly being thrust in to the spotlight. Bolt d’Oro will be in good hands.
The move comes after admittance by Mick Ruis that Bolt d’Oro needs a different approach to training for the Kentucky Derby if he is to make it there. Ruis wanted to line up Bolt d’Oro for a rematch after losing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but then realized that was his own ego talking. A calmer mind prevailed. “We grew up wrestling in the family, so we’re super competitive,” Ruis said of his upbringing. “The only way we know how to settle things is on the mat—mano a mano—but I’ve got to be more patient in this game. He’s a horse, not a gladiator.”
With Javier Castellano on board, Bolt d’Oro is most certainly be piloted by a rider capable of honing in his skills. This isn’t a knock on Nakatami, who has been outright successful. Hopefully this changing of the guard, as it were, will only boost Bolt d’Oro’s performance as he prepares for a gruelling, upcoming season. The 2018 San Felipe is on March 10th out of Santa Anita.