Handicapping the FrontRunner Stakes

Sep 28, 2017 by James Scully/Brisnet.com

Handicapping the FrontRunner Stakes for a better bet

Santa Anita’s opening-day weekend will feature a bevy of stakes with Breeders’ Cup implications and Saturday’s $300,000 FrontRunner (G1) serves as a “Win & You’re In” event for the $2 million Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar on November 4. It’s also part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, awarding points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers, and 1 1/16-mile race features an exciting cast of nine.


Unbeaten from two starts, Del Mar Futurity (G1) hero Bolt d’Oro can solidify his status as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite with another victory. A $630,000 2-year-old in training purchase, the Medaglia d’Oro colt overcame a tardy beginning to post a visually impressive 2 ¼-length debut score at Del Mar in early August and returned four weeks later to annex the Del Mar Futurity by nearly a length. Corey Nakatani rides the Mick Ruis trainee.

Zatter is the likely second choice but figures to receive plenty of support following his runner-up effort in the Del Mar Futurity. A sharp first-out winner on August 20, the son of Midnight Lute surged clear leaving the far turn and responded gamely when challenged by Bolt d’Oro in the latter stages. He possesses more tactical speed than his main rival and the Bob Baffert-trained colt should be forwardly-placed from his rail post with Rafael Bejarano.

Other contenders

Solomini also merits respect for Baffert. By Curlin, the chestnut colt hails from the unraced Storm Cat mare Surf Song, a half-sister to 2-year-old male champion Midshipman and Grade 2 scorer Fast Cookie, the dam of multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Frosted. And Solomini ran to his regal bloodlines in his September 2 career bow, showing good speed from the start and rallying strongly to overhaul Bahamian by a 1 ¾-length margin. I think the runner-up could be a good one and an inexperienced Solomini gave away plenty of ground while traveling wide from an outside post last time.


Bolt d’Oro is bred to relish the stretch out to two turns but his gate woes – he broke slowly in both starts – are a concern. And I was disappointed to see his Del Mar Futurity performance receive only a 94 BRIS Speed rating, the same number Solomini registered for his maiden win. Not my kind of play at expected short odds. 

It won't be a surprise to see either Bolt d'Oro or Zatter prevail, but I'm willing to go a different direction from the Del Mar Futurity for the top spot.

Solomini is the pick.

The promising youngster drew outside the speed in the FrontRunner starting gate and is eligible to receive an ideal stalking trip from just off the pace. I liked the way he finished in the lone appearance sprinting and given he’s built to thrive at 2-turn distances, Solomini appears poised to keep moving forward in the second start for Baffert.

Good luck playing the FrontRunner!

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