There are so many horses in the Kentucky Derby that are tough to figure out because they are so well-matched and competitive. Luckily, there are others, like Bolo, which we don't need to spend too much time worrying about. He showed promise earlier in his career, but now he just doesn't seem fast enough or particularly suited for the dirt track he'll have to run over. Can Bolo win the Kentucky Derby? Well, if Giacomo can win it then anything is possible. If he does win, though, or even run high up on the board, then I am not going to have a good betting day at all.
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Santa Anita Derby: The Santa Anita Derby had only six entrants, but it was really three distinct races. Dortmund was completely in a class of his own, and no one stood a chance against him. He won effortlessly. Bob Baffert's other horse, One Lucky Dane, was second best. He never threatened the winner but was also never threatened from behind. That left the final four horses to pick up the scraps - and Bolo was up to that challenge. He stalked the pace, made a decent move around the final turn, and held on down the stretch. It wasn't great. It was fine. I left the race feeling very inspired, but not at all by this horse. It was an also-ran performance - much like I expect on the first Saturday in May.
Prior experience: This is where it gets odd. The horse seems to have proven in his past experience one thing - that he is a turf horse. He broke his maiden on the second try on the turf at Del Mar. Then he won a nice stakes race on the grass at Santa Anita at the end of last year. After a brief layoff he came back and tried the dirt in the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby and was third both times. He was fine, but doesn't at all seem to be a horse with massive upside - at least not on the dirt. Success in owning or training horses is as much about picking your spots as anything. It seems very much like the ownership group got such a severe case of Derby fever that there was nothing they could do about it. Heart ruled head in this case. Or at least, that's how it seems from here.
Trainer: Carla Gaines did not seem to think that this was the best spot for this horse, and she said so publicly, but her owners pushed for the horse to make the trip. Maybe that's a good omen. In 2009, owner Ken Kinakin, paid more than $100,000 to supplement Dancing in Silks, the only horse he owned at the time, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He didn't tell Gaines before doing it, and Gaines was shocked and said it wasn't a good idea. The horse went on to win the race. Gaines trains in California and will be making her Derby debut. She has won many graded stakes, though she is struggling this year with just two wins in 46 starts on the season. She has a chance to become the first female trainer to win the Derby.
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano was briefly without a Derby mount. He was due to ride One Lucky Dane, but when he was injured in training Bejarano quickly jumped into this saddle. Bolo was in need of a rider because neither of his previous two pilots wanted the job. Mike Smith had ridden him in four of five outings but opted instead to ride Far Right - who he had ridden in his last three outings. Smith openly suggested that this horse was a turf horse not suited to the Derby, so this was no surprise. Victor Espinoza had ridden this horse the one time Smith couldn't, but since he has the mount on Dortmund he obviously wasn't interested. Bejarano is definitely not an upgrade over Smith, but he is a solid choice. He has not won a Triple Crown race, but he has plenty of experience at Churchill Downs and has performed well in big races in the past.
Breeding: Bolo is a son of Temple City, who excelled on the synthetic surfaces, so that isn't ideal. His pedigree has no shortage of Derby influences, though, so he should be fine for the distance (which is to say he'll handle it, not that he'll be fast enough to win). Temple City is sired by Dynaformer, who was the sire of Barbaro. Temple City's dam is a half sister to Malibu Moon, who sired Derby winner Orb as well as this year's hopeful's Mr. Z, Stanford, and Danzig Moon. His dam, Aspen Mountain, is a half-sister to Mining My Own, the dam of Mine That Bird. Bolo's Damsire, Chief Seattle, is a son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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