It's game on in Saturday's Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby as multiple graded stakes winner Bolt d'Oro faces off with rising superstar Justify and five other sophomores at a mile and one eighth in the race that has produced 17 Kentucky Derby winners. Owned and trained by Mick Ruis, Bolt d'Oro, a two-time Grade I winner, finished second, beaten a head in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but was awarded the victory via a stewards' inquiry.
Trained by Bob Baffert, who seeks his record eighth Santa Anita Derby win, Justify, who has won his two career starts by a combined 16 lengths, has become the talk of the racing world and is widely thought to be Baffert's top Derby hopeful.
Throw in Jerry Hollendorfer's Grade III stakes winner Instilled Regard, and Saturday's Derby has the look of a select showdown with 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points at stakes. (100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 points to the fourth place finisher).
Owner: Ruis Racing, LLC; Trainer: Mick Ruis
A $630,000 yearling purchase, this Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro won his first three starts, including the Grade I Del Mar Futurity Sept. 4 and the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes here on Sept. 30 prior to running third as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4, a race in which he was severely compromised by an outside draw. Sidelined due to a minor ailment following the Breeders' Cup, he overcame a four-month layoff to duel with Baffert's Grade I winning McKinzie the length of the stretch in the San Felipe, coming up a head short when ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano. With three works to his credit since, Bolt d'Oro is by all accounts, training forwardly for Saturday's Derby and with a star-studded resume in-hand, looms the horse to beat.
Owner: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, LLC, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm; Trainer: Bob Baffert
A striking physical specimen, this chestnut colt by Scat Daddy has a tremendous stride and appears to have a limitless future. Unraced at two, he broke his maiden going seven furlongs on Feb. 18 by 9 ½ lengths, after which Baffert gushed “It's not too late,” when asked about the colt's Derby prospects. Stretched out to a mile for his second start on March 11, Justify cruised to a 6 ½ length win under Mike Smith and was believed headed to the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 14, but was re-routed to the Santa Anita Derby by Baffert following a minor setback to McKinzie over the weekend. Although Baffert has allowed that Justify is his most talented 3-year-old, Justify, who at this point has zero Kentucky Derby qualifying points, must run first or second to “make the gate” the first Saturday in May.
Owner: OXO Equine, LLC; Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Purchased for $1,050,000 at a March 2-year-old in training sale, this Kentucky-bred colt by Arch broke his maiden going a mile and one sixteenth by 4 ¼ lengths in his third start here on Oct. 29. Subsequently third, beaten less than one length by Baffert's highly regarded Solomini in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 9 (McKinzie finished a head in front of him, but both Instilled Regard and McKinzie were moved up a notch following the disqualification of Solomini), Instilled Regard then shipped to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he took the Grade III Lecomte Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths. Fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade II Risen Star on Feb. 17, Instilled Regard will hope to bounce back as he runs out of his own stall and is ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario on Saturday.
GRADE I, $1 MILLION SANTA ANITA DERBY WITH JOCKEYS & MORNING LINE FROM THE RAIL OUT
Race 9 of 13; Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT
- Instilled Regard—Joel Rosario—124 – 5-1
- Orbit Rain—Brice Blanc—124 – 50-1
- Bolt d'Oro—Javier Castellano—124 – 6-5
- Jimmy Chila—Mario Gutierrez—124 – 30-1
- Pepe Tono—Victor Espinoza—124 – 20-1
- Justify—Mike Smith—124 – 4-5
- Core Beliefs—Tyler Baze—124 – 20-1
First post time for a blockbuster 13-race card that will include seven stakes, is at 11:30 a.m. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com.
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