Bolt d'Oro Odds to Win the 2018 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
The bad news is that this colt has lost his last three races - including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, in which he was the favorite. But it could be worse. He has been beaten by just four horses in those three races - three that are in the Derby, including the favorite, and one who would have been among the top favorites if he hadn't been hurt. So, when he loses it is to top horses, and he never gets blown out. But being close isn't going to be good enough in the Derby - not in a field this strong. So, can Bolt d'Oro rediscover his winning ways? Or will he just make up the lower part of the exotics while other top horses continue to be just a little better.
Last race: The Santa Anita Derby is a tough race to digest for this runner. On one hand his Brisnet speed figure of 110 is historically high - only three runners since 2000 have come into the Derby with a number that high in their last race, and all have won the Derby. But he was beaten soundly by Justify, who posted a 114, which is higher than any horse in that time has brought into the Derby. So, on one hand you could argue that it is the second strongest effort of the prep season. It certainly was one of the better ones. But he also wasn't nearly as good as the winner, and he didn't really put up a true fight in the end.
Prior experience: The horse started out with a bang. He won his maiden debut in August and then won two straight Grade 1 races - the second of which, the FrontRunner at Santa Anita, was a truly dominant victory by more than seven lengths. Very impressive. The problem, though, is that he hasn't won since. Or at least he hasn't crossed the wire first. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile he was favored heavily, but he had a rough start and never fully recovered, finishing third behind fellow Derby entrants Good Magic and Solomini - the latter being the horse that had finished almost eight lengths behind him last time out. Then after a long break he returned in the San Felipe. He lost a tough stretch duel to the great and unfortunately injured McKinzie but then was placed first after a very dubious disqualification. And then came the Santa Anita Derby. So, he's a very talented horse who hasn't won since September but who has had the misfortune of facing the country's two best three-year-olds in his last two outings. So, what does it all mean?
Trainer: Maybe I'm just cynical when it comes to a good story, but I don't have much respect for trainer, and owner, Mick Ruis. He was a racing fan who sold a scaffold company in the early 2000s and started a horse racing operation. That's fine, but instead of hiring a trainer he trained the horses himself. Big mistake. It didn't go well, and he went broke. He started a much bigger scaffold company, sold it for much more money in 2016, and bought much better horses, including this one for $630,000, and returned to the game. Good story. But he still thought that he was a better trainer for these horses than an established expert. That's where I struggle to buy in. It feels like he is in over his head in this spot, and that feels like a shame for a horse of this quality. Picking yourself to train your world-class horses is like picking yourself as your own lawyer - it's idiotic.
Jockey: Victor Espinoza will be on board. That's obviously not a bad thing - he has won the Derby and the Preakness three times each and is the only active Triple Crown winner. He knows how to be at his best on this day. But there is an issue that we need to figure out with this horse. Javier Castellano, arguably the nation's top current jockey, had the mount on this horse the last two times out and could have had it for the Derby. Instead, though, he opted to ride Florida Derby winner Audible. On one hand there is a longer-term view to consider - Castellano rides a lot for Audible's trainer Todd Pletcher, so there is loyalty in play. But as good as this horse has potentially looked at times, to give up the ride - and to do so quickly and seemingly without hesitation - is worth noting. He has lined up beside Justify and seen how this horse matched up, and he didn't want a rematch. How much do you want to read into that?
Breeding: Bolt d'Oro is sired by Medaglia d'Oro, who is also represented in this field by Enticed. That horse was fourth in the 2002 Derby after winning the San Felipe - the same race this colt won via disqualification. I'll always remember Medaglia d'Oro, though, for his skill at finishing second - kind of like this son as well. He was second in the Santa Anita Derby, Belmont, the Dubai World Cup and the Breeders' Cup Classic two years in a row. He has been a strong sire, with great fillies Rachel Alexandra and Songbird being his best offspring. His damsire is the great A.P. Indy, a Belmont winner who was the son of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew out of a mare by Triple Crown winner Secretariat. It doesn't get any better than that - especially when it comes to the Triple Crown. A.P. Indy offspring have won the Preakness and Belmont, and his bloodlines are littered with Triple Crown race winners. This is a regally-bred colt.
Odds: BetOnline has Bolt d'Oro as the third choice to win the Kentucky Derby behind favored Justify at +225 and UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn at +525.
Can Bolt d'Oro Win the 2018 Kentucky Derby?: Yes. He's immensely talented and capable of measuring up to the best in this race. But after reading this preview it probably comes as no surprise that I am skeptical about his chances - and at the very least don't see value here. I don't trust Ruis to have the horse as ready as he should be and am not convinced that the horse has the killer instinct he would need in a tight fight down the stretch.
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