by Jon White
March 7, 2018
This Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park should be a lot of fun to watch. The Grade II affair features an early season clash between McKinzie, who has been No. 1 on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 all year up to this point, and Bolt d’Oro, who currently is No. 2 on my list.
Bolt d’Oro moved up to No. 2 this week in wake of the loss last Saturday by Eclipse Award winner Good Magic, who finished third as a 3-5 favorite in the Grade II Xpressbet Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.
Here is my current Kentucky Derby Top 10:
2. Bolt d’Oro
3. Good Magic
6. Promises Fulfilled
7. Instilled Regard
8. Catholic Boy
9. Avery Island
10. My Boy Jack
I have had McKinzie at No. 1 ever since my first Kentucky Derby Top 10 list of the year on Jan. 20. I think he is a very special colt.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who three years ago swept the coveted Triple Crown with American Pharoah, McKinzie takes a three-for-three record into the 1 1/16-mile San Felipe. In his 2018 debut, the Kentucky-bred colt registered a 3 1/2-length victory in Santa Anita’s Grade III Sham Stakes at one mile on Jan. 6.
McKinzie is by Street Sense, who won the 2007 Kentucky Derby by 2 1/4 lengths. I can’t help feeling there is a very good chance that McKinzie will join his sire on the voluminous honor roll of Kentucky Derby winners.
But while I admittedly have been on the McKinzie bandwagon for many weeks now, I also have the utmost respect for Bolt d’Oro.
Conditioned by Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro has not started since he raced extremely wide throughout and finished third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last Nov. 4 as the 3-5 favorite.
Bolt d’Oro was three for three going into the BC Juvenile. His 7 3/4-length tour de force in Santa Anita’s Grade I FrontRunner Stakes at 1 1/16 miles last Sept. 30 was one of the finest performances by a 2-year-old in many years. His final time was 1:43.54. On that same track that same afternoon in a race at the same distance, 3-year-old filly Paradise Woods won the Grade I Zenyatta in 1:44.34.
According to Andy Beyer, Bolt d’Oro’s “raw figure” in the FrontRunner was 113. However, Beyer did not feel 113 was accurate in that such a big figure would lead to unrealistically career-best figures for the vanquished. Consequently, Beyer arbitrarily lowered Bolt d’Oro’s FrontRunner figure all the way down to 100.
I wrote here in my Xpressbet.com column that I believed that Beyer had gone too far. I said that I felt Bolt d’Oro deserved a higher figure than 100. And that eventually did happen. After the Breeders’ Cup, Beyer retroactively raised Bolt d’Oro’s FrontRunner figure to 103.
Bolt d’Oro recorded a 91 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance in the BC Juvenile when he finished 5 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Good Magic.
McKinzie was assigned a 99 Beyer Speed Figure when he won a seven-furlong maiden special weight race by 5 1/2 lengths last Oct. 28 at Santa Anita in his career debut. His Beyer dipped to 92 when he finished second but was moved up to first via the disqualification of Solomini in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity last Dec. 9. McKinzie then rebounded to post a 98 Beyer when he won the Sham.
It appears to me that McKinzie has the potential to become someone who goes out and constantly posts triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures.
The draw for San Felipe post positions was shown live on XVTV. In post-position order, the field consists of Bolt d’Oro, Lombo, Ayacara, McKinzie, Aquila, Calexman, Peace and Kanthaka.
Will either McKinzie or Bolt d’Oro step up and win the San Felipe to firmly establish himself as the consensus early Kentucky Derby favorite? Or will they both fail to get the job done? Who knows? Maybe the San Felipe will produce an upset a la last Saturday’s Fountain of Youth (won by 18-1 Promises Fulfilled), the Grade III Southwest Stakes on Feb. 19 (won by 8-1 My Boy Jack) and the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17 (won by 21-1 Bravazo).
My San Felipe selections: 1. McKinzie, 2. Bolt d’Oro, 3.Kanthaka.
GOOD MAGIC NEEDS TO RUN BETTER
Perhaps Good Magic’s defeat in the 1 1/16-mile Xpressbet Fountain of Youth can be forgiven to some extent because he had not raced since last Nov. 4. But to be perfectly candid, my enthusiasm for him has been diminished some -- not a lot, but some.
Good Magic had an ideal trip in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth all the way to the top of the stretch. But when the real test came, the “magic” was missing. He just did not have any late punch.
I did want to be careful and not overreact to Good Magic’s loss in his 2018 debut. Hence, I moved him down only one notch this week to No. 3 from No. 2 last week.
It will not be surprising if Good Magic moves forward off this defeat and runs better next time. But the Kentucky-bred Curlin colt certainly needs to do that in order for me to continue to rank him as one of the top three Kentucky Derby contenders, something I am willing to do at this time.
Chad Brown, voted 2016 and 2017 Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer, has said the plan is for Good Magic to make his next start in Keeneland’s Grade II Blue Grass Stakes on April 7.
Good Magic recorded only an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth. Remember, he was good enough to record a 100 Beyer Speed Figure when he won the BC Juvenile. And don’t forget, the BC Juvenile was his third start of 2017. The Kentucky Derby is scheduled to be Good Magic’s third start of 2018.
Promises Fulfilled, breaking from the outside post among nine Xpressbet Fountain of Youth starters with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle, was hustled immediately to the front and never relinquished command. He stepped the opening quarter in a lively :23.80. Ortiz then slyly slowed the tempo down on the backstretch. Promises Fulfilled ran the next quarter in :24.59, followed by quarters in :24.21 and :24.99, with a fine last sixteenth in 6.58 for a final time of 1:44.17.
Strike Power raced second all the way, his initial loss in three career starts while making his first start around two turns. He finished 2 1/4 lengths clear of Good Magic.
Promises Fulfilled returned $38.40 for each $2 win wager. He now has won three of four career starts. This was his first race since he finished third in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last Nov. 25.
Trained by Dale Romans, a 2012 Eclipse Award winner, Promises Fulfilled is a Kentucky-bred Shackleford colt. Romans won the 2011 Preakness Stakes with Shackleford.
Promises Fulfilled was assigned a career-best (by far) Beyer Speed Figure of 96 for his Fountain of Youth triumph. His previous best was a 76 in the Kentucky Jockey Club. These are the Beyer Speed Figures for the winner of the Fountain of Youth going back to 1992:
2018 Promises Fulfilled (96)
2017 Gunnevera (97)
2016 Mohaymen (95)
2015 Itsaknockout (88)
2014 Wildcat Red (101)
2013 Orb (97)
2012 Union Rags (95)
2011 Soldat (96)
2010 Eskendereya (106)
2009 Quality Road (113)
2008 Cool Coal Man (98)
2007 Scat Daddy (96)
2006 First Samurai (94)+
2005 High Fly (99)
2004 Read the Footnotes (113)
2003 Trust n Luck (106)
2002 Booklet (103)
2001 Songandaprayer (101)
2000 High Yield (101)
1999 Vicar (97)
1998 Lil’s Lad (113)
1997 Pulpit (104)
1996 Built for Pleasure (100)
1995 Thunder Gulch (105)
1994 Dehere (99)
1993 Storm Tower (96)*
1993 Duc d’Sligovil (94)*
1992 Dance Floor (98)
+Corinthian finished first but was disqualified and placed third
*Run in divisions
THE GREAT WINX WINS AGAIN
Hail mighty Winx!
The Australian superstar made it 23 victories in a row when she trounced eight hapless rivals in the Group I TAB Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick on March 3. Next-to-last early, she roared home to a seven-length victory. It was her first start since her remarkable third Group I Cox Plate triumph last Oct. 28.
Winx now has tied American legend John Henry’s all-time record of 16 Grade I/Group I wins. The 6-year-old mare is expected to try and break John Henry’s record in a Group I event on March 24.
Street Cry is the sire of both Winx and Zenyatta, two of the greatest female Thoroughbreds of all time. Zenyatta, America’s 2010 Horse of the Year and only filly or mare to win the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, won 19 of 20 lifetime starts. Winx has won 26 of 32 career starts. That means Street Cry’s daughters Winx and Zenyatta combined have 45 wins from 52 starts!
By the way, McKinzie’s sire, Street Sense, also is by Street Cry.
AN IDEA FOR THE SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
Also on Santa Anita’s card this Saturday is the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap, a storied race that unfortunately has lost some of its luster due to its placement on the calendar between the rich Pegasus World Cup in January and also-rich Dubai World Cup in March.
Now that Santa Anita races into June, how about boosting the Santa Anita Handicap purse back up to $1 million and moving it to closing day, which this year would be June 24, or the day before? Oh, I am sure Churchill Downs would not be pleased. This would put the Big ’Cap into competition with Churchill’s Grade I, $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, which this year will be decided on June 16.
We have seen a big-name horse like Gun Runner return from Dubai and run in the Foster, as was the case last year.
The Santa Anita Handicap just can’t compete with the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup. But maybe, if its purse is restored to $1 million and it is moved to June, it could compete with the Stephen Foster.
MILK CARTON HORSE UPDATE: MASK
Mask won Gulfstream’s Mucho Macho Man by 6 1/4 lengths on Jan. 6 for his second win in as many career starts. I mentioned last week that I had not seen any further news regarding Mask since Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman reported on Jan. 30 that the colt had a setback that would require him to miss approximately two weeks of training, according to trainer Chad Brown.
Added Privman: “Brown said the timing of the setback, details of which he did not want to disclose, would keep Mask out of his next scheduled start, the Grade II, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 17.”
Finally, on Feb. 28, I did see some news regarding Mask. Ray Paulick of the Paulick Report wrote that Mask “is expected to resume serious training soon but is off the Kentucky Derby trail, according to Bill Farish of Lane’s End Racing, which owns the son of Tapit.”
THE LATEST NTRA POLLS
This is this week’s NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 441 West Coast (29)
2. 377 World Approval
3. 286 Unique Bella (2)
4. 271 Roy H (1)
5. 244 Forever Unbridled (1)
6. 163 Gun Runner (13)
7. 148 Gunnevera
8. 146 Abel Tasman
9. 109 Sharp Azteca
10. 85 Beach Patrol
Here is this week’s NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll:
Rank Points Horse (First-Place Votes)
1. 419 Bolt d’Oro (31)
2. 379 McKinzie (10)
3. 296 Audible (1)
4. 286 Good Magic (1)
5. 229 Solomini (1)
6. 196 Promises Fulfilled
7. 134 Avery Island
8. 104 Catholic Boy
8. 101 Bravazo
10. 73 Flameaway
Good Magic was No 1 last week, receiving 24 first-place votes. This week, following his Fountain of Youth setback, he dropped to No. 4 while receiving just a single first-place vote.