California Stars Ready to Head to Kentucky

Source: Santa Anita

Justify, Bolt d’Oro and Midnight Bisou, arguably the leading three-year-olds in the land, will move their captivating acts to Kentucky next month where they will take center stage in the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.

“He looks good,” Bob Baffert said of Justify early Sunday morning (April 8, 2018), less than 24 hours after the chestnut son of Scat Daddy repulsed Bolt d’Oro in the Santa Anita Derby, winning by three lengths to remain unbeaten and stamp himself as the clear-cut favorite for the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

“The track was really deep and loose yesterday and I was worried about that because he could have gotten really tired, but he acted like he wasn’t, and he handled it well.

“He’s still learning how to run, still a little green. He was out there (on the lead) by himself, looking at everything, taking it all in, but I like the way he responded when Bolt made that run at him (in mid-stretch).

“Those two beat the rest of that field by a wide margin (9 ½ lengths back to Core Beliefs in third), so they’re serious horses. You just need racing luck (to win like that). You’ve got to have the racing luck.

“Justify and Bolt are the two best horses, and you have to give credit to Bolt. He doesn’t quit. He’s right there every time.”

Baffert, too savvy to contemplate notions this early of a Triple Crown sweep for Justify, even though it has already struck the mindset of some race trackers, pooh-poohed the thought.

“Oh, no,” he said. “That’s a long way off.”

Bolt d’Oro also came out of the race well, save for a minor cut, and will head to Churchill Downs for a rematch with Justify in the Run for the Roses.

“After the race there was a little blood by his front quarter on the right side,” owner/trainer Mick Ruis said. “We washed it off and checked it out. It was like getting a splinter. No flesh came off, nothing like that. It just opened up a bit and in three days you won’t even know it’s there.

“We’re good,” Ruis told drf.com. “I’m excited. He got a lot out of it, and there won’t be three quarters in 1:12 in the Derby,”

As for Midnight Bisou, the filly who made a Zenyatta-type move to win the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks by 3 ½ lengths, trainer Bill Spawr has her bound for the Blue Grass State and the Kentucky Oaks on May 4.

Midnight Bisou was eighth and next-to-last, more than 10 lengths behind at the half-mile mark in the mile and a sixteenth race before unleashing her overpowering run.

“She’s bright-eyed, cheery, happy and ate up all her food, so we’re happy,” said former jockey Jeff Bloom, part owner of the daughter of Midnight Lute. “It’s on to Kentucky. The flight is booked. Actually, the flight’s been booked, but now it’s really booked.

“She’s just such a wonderful filly to be around, but the way she won yesterday just gives you goose bumps. I’ve talked to so many horsemen who have been in this game a long time, and they said the same thing.

“They’re fans who saw what she did. It’s remarkable.”

Who’s a 2018 Kentucky Derby Contender According to Dew

Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

by Justin Dew

Even though there are still four hugely important Kentucky Derby prep races to be run, I have already made some key decisions about my Derby Day wagering. That’s not to say I can’t go back and change my mind later. It’s possible that the upcoming prep races will change everything. But things are definitely starting to take shape.

Gulfstream Park horse toteThere is a 0% chance that Mendelssohn makes a prominent appearance on my tickets. I don’t care that he is related to Beholder, nor do I care that he allegedly earned a huge Beyer Speed Figure in winning the UAE Derby. That racetrack was a conveyor belt, and that race had to take a lot out of him. I think he will be over-bet based on the margin of victory and the track record time. If he is a freak of nature and runs huge in Louisville, then I will tip my cap and tear up my tickets. I am definitely glad that he is coming to America, and there is no doubt that he is a very exciting racehorse. I’ll even go a step further and say that I’d like to see the Coolmore people win the Kentucky Derby someday. But Mendelssohn is a bet against for me.

How much did we really learn about Audible from his Florida Derby win? I had him ranked very high before the race, and he certainly did not disappoint. But with the insane early pace, and with Catholic Boy apparently bleeding, he almost had no choice but to win. I am clearly not going to fault him for winning, but we can expect to see much lower odds in the Kentucky Derby based on how visually impressive he was in the Florida Derby. Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

And speaking of the Florida Derby, if Hofburg runs in the Kentucky Derby, I have a strange feeling he is going to become the wiseguy horse. Everyone will start talking about how he will love a mile and a quarter and is just learning what the racing game is all about, and how Bill Mott is the greatest trainer in history and blah blah blah. But just like Audible, Hofburg benefited from the blazing early fractions and passed a bunch of horses that were stopping and/or bleeding. I actually thought Mississippi ran a fantastic race, but I don’t think he will have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. It sounds like Promises Fulfilled will continue on to Louisville, where I see him finishing somewhere between ninth and 16th.

Perhaps the most significant Kentucky Derby development this weekend was the announcement that McKinzie is injured and will miss his start in the Santa Anita Derby. I’ll have more to say about him later this week, but suffice it to say I was looking forward to betting against him in Kentucky also.

There are a few horses who have already made their final prep that I would like to discuss. Noble Indy doesn’t do it for me, and based on what I’m reading he doesn’t do it for many other people either. I have a feeling Jon Velazquez will end up on Audible instead of this guy. Bravazo is interesting to me. Let’s see how he trains at Churchill Downs. And Runaway Ghost didn’t look like a horse who will have trouble with the Derby distance when he won at Sunland. I can see him closing late for a big piece of the Derby pie.

handicappers Dew Justin Rich NilsenLots to look forward to this weekend. It seems as if the Blue Grass Stakes is shaping up as an absolute battle. And it will feature the horse who I think is the most likely winner of the Kentucky Derby.

 

— Editor’s Note: I got to know Justin Dew (left) when he was the official blogger for the very official Kentucky Derby website.  He’s an amazing father and fantastic gambler.  Just ask him.  He’ll tell you.  Welcome aboard, Justin!