Justify Favored at 4-5 in Morning Line
By Dick Downey with content from Santa Anita release
The Santa Anita Derby will answer a lot of questions about two horses, but seven are entered to run.
Multiple graded stakes winner Bolt d’Oro faces off with rising superstar Justify and five other sophomores at a mile and one eighth in the race that has produced 17 Kentucky Derby winners.
Owned and trained by Mick Ruis, Bolt d’Oro, a two time Grade I winner, finished second, beaten a head in the Grade II San Felipe Stakes on March 10, but he was awarded the victory via a stewards’ inquiry and the ensuing disqualification of McKinzie.
With McKinzie now off the Kentucky Derby Trail with an as-yet unspecified injury, Bob Baffert has filled his slot in the Santa Anita Derby with Justify, who's a sensation off just two career races won by a combined 16 lengths. Baffert seeks his record eighth Santa Anita Derby win.
Throw in Jerry Hollendorfer’s Grade III stakes winner Instilled Regard, and Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby has the look of a select showdown with 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points at stake -- 100 to the winner, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 points to the fourth.
Owner: Ruis Racing, LLC
Trainer: Mick Ruis
A $630,000 yearling purchase, this Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro won his first three starts, including the Grade I Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 4 and the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes at the track on Sept. 30. As the 3-5 favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 4, he finished third. Many say he was compromised by an outside draw, and Ruis said yesterday that perhpas he didn't train 'Bolt' stringently enough going into the race.
Sidelined due to a minor ailment following the Breeders’ Cup, he overcame a four-month layoff to duel with McKinzie the length of the stretch in the San Felipe, coming up a head short when ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano. With three works to his credit since then, Bolt d’Oro is, by all accounts, training forwardly for Saturday’s race.
Owner:China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, LLC, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm
Trainer: Bob Baffert
A striking physical specimen, this chestnut colt by Scat Daddy has a tremendous stride and appears to have a future with great upside. Unraced at two, he broke his maiden going seven furlongs on Feb. 18 by 9 1/2 lengths, after which Baffert gushed “It’s not too late” when asked about the colt’s Derby prospects. Stretched out to a mile for his second start on March 11, Justify cruised to a 6 1/2-length win on a wet track under Mike Smith and was believed headed to the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 14.
Justify was re-routed to the Santa Anita Derby by Baffert following a minor setback to McKinzie over the weekend. Although Baffert has allowed that Justify is his most talented 3-year-old, Justify, who at this point has zero Kentucky Derby qualifying points, must run first or second to have a chance to make the field on the first Saturday in May.
Owner: OXO Equine, LLC
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Purchased for $1,050,000 at the Ocala March 2-year-old in training sale, this Kentucky-bred colt by Arch broke his maiden going a mile and one sixteenth by 4 1/4 lengths at the track on Oct. 29 in his third start. He was subsequently third, beaten less than one length by Baffert’s highly regarded Solomini in the Grade I Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 9 McKinzie finished a head in front of him, but both Instilled Regard and McKinzie were moved up a notch following the disqualification of Solomini.
Next time out, Instilled Regard was shipped to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he took the Grade III Lecomte Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths. Fourth as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade II Risen Star on Feb. 17, Instilled Regard's connections hope he'll bounce back as he runs out of his own stall and is ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario on Saturday.
Santa Anita Derby: 1 Instilled Regard 5-1 (J Rosario), 2 Orbit Rain 50-1 (B Blanc), Bolt d'Oro 6-5 (J Castellano), 4 Jimmy Chila 30-1 (M Gutierriz), 5 Pepe Tono (S) 20-1 (V Espinoza), 6 Justify 4-5 (M Smith), 7 Core Beliefs 20-1 (T Baze). (S) = Supplemental Nomination