Multiple Grade 1 hero Bolt d’Oro makes his belated sophomore debut on Saturday breaking from the rail in the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. The race is part of the Championship portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and offers up 50-20-10-5 points to the respective top four finishers.
The Mick Ruis-owned and -trained colt captured his initial three starts last year, breaking his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths and taking the Del Mar Futurity (G1) by three parts of a length, both at that track, before showing up at Santa Anita for a 7 3/4-length romp in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1). Based on those performances, Bolt d’Oro was sent off the heavy 3-5 favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) but could do no better than third, beaten 5 1/4 lengths, that day.
The Medaglia d’Oro colt was scheduled to make his three-year-old bow in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) on February 10, but was forced to skip that contest after appearing off in his hind end at the beginning of the year. Bolt d’Oro has been preparing for his 2017 debut ever since and gets a jockey switch to Javier Castellano for this long-awaited run.
McKinzie puts his perfect three-for-three mark on the line in the San Felipe for trainer Bob Baffert. The Street Sense colt broke his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths in late October, finished second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) before being elevated to first via disqualification of his stablemate Solomini and brings a 3 1/2-length score from the January 6 Sham Stakes (G3) into this one. The Kentucky-bred bay has yet to earn anything below a 100 BRIS Speed rating and retains the services of regular rider Mike Smith.
Lombo breaks just outside of Bolt d’Oro and will attempt to earn his second straight graded victory in this spot. The Michael Pender-conditioned three-year-old dropped his first two races before breaking his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths on January 20 while going 6 1/2 furlongs. The Graydar colt stretched out to 1 1/16 miles for the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) two weeks later and wired that one by an easy two lengths. Four different jockeys have been aboard Lombo and Rafael Bejarano will make it five on Saturday.
Kanthaka took full advantage of Bolt d’Oro’s absence in the San Vicente to score a 3 1/4-length win in the seven-furlong affair. Conditioned by Jerry Hollendorfer, the Jimmy Creed chestnut stretches out past that distance for the first time here with Flavien Prat staying in the pilot’s seat.
Trainer Simon Callaghan saddled Aquila to wire a Santa Anita maiden special weight going 1 1/16 miles on February 16 in his third try. The Union Rags chestnut earned a 93 BRIS Speed figure for that effort under Martin Pedroza, who has the return call in this spot.
Ayacara was fourth behind Bolt d’Oro in the FrontRunner last year and most recently filled the second spot behind Lombo in the Lewis. The chestnut son of Violence comes from the barn of Keith Desormeaux and gets Kent Desormeaux back in the irons. Peace was fifth in the Lewis for trainer Richard Mandella and would need to step forward under new rider Drayden Van Dyke to factor here.
The only race in which Calexman has been competitive, a neck victory against maiden rivals, came on the turf at Del Mar. The chestnut colt’s other three starts on the main track resulted in well-beaten losses. Alonso Quinonez stays in the saddle on the Vladimir Cerin charge.