San Felipe Stakes

Three major Kentucky Derby preps this weekend — Gotham Stakes, Tampa Bay Derby, and the San Felipe. Tough choice, but I’ll stay out west (where I play regularly) and see the return (of the favorite) in Bolt D’Oro. Means nothing of course, but I’ve always thought the name of this horse was bad-ass.

Bolt D’Oro draws the rail and seeks to regain the form he showed in the Frontrunner last fall over this track. He finished a disappointing third as the odds-on favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has been unseen (at least in the afternoon) since. He’s been working out regularly and strongly and now begins the final quest to the Derby — which, if things go right, will likely include the Santa Anita Derby in the middle. He’s a gamble — you never know how these horses come back, especially when it’s already March. Let’s see what else if out there to possibly beat him.

McKinzie won the GIII Sham and was placed first in the Los Al Futurity. He’s also very fast and did beat Instilled Regard that day — who won at the Fair Grounds on the trail. He’s certainly fast enough to run with Bolt D’Oro, (1) if he improves just a bit; (2) can handle the class test; and (3) Bolt D’Oro does not fire like he did in the Frontrunner.

Kanthaka burst on the scene by winning the San Vincente in early February. That win was at 7 furlongs, and he does have a sprint pedigree. He’ll stretchout today, but I expect that it likely won’t go as planned. There’s always the possibility, and it’s not 10 furlongs, only 8.5. Plus Jerry Hollendorfer is skilled at stretching them out. His big question is the distance.

Lombo has shown improvement with two straight wins at Santa Anita– breaking his maiden and then winning the Robert B. Lewis decisively. He’ll need to grow and increase his speed to be competitive with this group, but that’s not out of the question. This grey horse is a dark horse candidate for finding the top stop today.

AyacaraAquila, Calexman, and Peace are longshots. Of these, Peace has back speed which might make him competitive today. Aquila is a last-out maiden winner, who ran fast, but not super-fast enough to be a winner today, absent improvement. Ayacara may be a factor if the pace is super hot and falls apart.

Analysis: Tough race to make a lot of money, but I have good feelings for the return of Bolt D’Oro. Lombo stands an upset chance, maybe in second place of an exacta with Bolt D’Oro. McKinzie has a strong chance, perhaps use him on top of Lombo as well.