Bolt d’Oro wins San Felipe after McKinzie DQ’d

Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie battle in the stretch of the San Felipe at Santa Anita Park. Photo by Terri Keith.

Bolt d’Oro’s owner and trainer, Mick Ruis, was already thrilled when his promising 3-year-old colt finished a head behind McKinzie in the Grade 2 San Felipe S. at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.

Then Ruis and McKinzie’s trainer, Bob Baffert, waited and waited to see if there would be any change in the result as the stewards conducted an inquiry into the duel between two of the nation’s top-ranked 3-year-old colts.

Minutes dragged on as Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie repeatedly circled around near the winners’ circle, with the stewards ultimately disqualifying McKinzie to second and moving Bolt d’Oro up to first.
The chief steward said McKinzie came out under a left-handed whip and cost Bolt d’Oro a better placing.

McKinzie’s jockey, Mike Smith, countered that Bolt d’Oro “hit me” seconds earlier. But the stewards found that the video shots were inconclusive on which horse initiated the contact at the head of the stretch, while finding that the contact McKinzie made with Bolt d’Oro at the sixteenth pole was clear.

Baffert was upset by the decision, which came about three months after one of the other promising colts he trains, Solomini, was disqualified from first to third in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity. In that race, McKinzie was moved up from second to first.

After the latest disqualification, Baffert said he was “shocked” and thought Bolt d’Oro’s jockey, Javier Castellano, had “apparently talked them into it.”

Ruis, meanwhile, said he wasn’t even paying attention during the lengthy inquiry process, noting that he was already proud of the colt for being that close at the finish and “that far in front of all the rest of the other horses” in his debut as a 3-year-old.

He called the end result “a bonus” for Bolt d’Oro.

“I felt even if we wouldn’t have had that inquiry what he did from where he was nine weeks ago was phenomenal,” Ruis told reporters. “He is the soundest horse we have in the barn so let’s cross (our) fingers and get through the next – Santa Anita Derby – and hopefully we can go to that big race we’re looking for.”

Bolt d’Oro was undefeated in his first three races and suffered his first loss with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar last November. The son of Medaglia d’Oro hadn’t raced since then.

“I don’t think we’re going to regress because I didn’t have him all the way cranked up,” Bolt d’Oro’s trainer said, noting that the colt was “80 percent ready” for the San Felipe and that he thinks he’s “going to come really good out of this race.”

“We’re just going to go day-by-day (and) cherish this win,” Ruis said.

Bolt d’Oro paid $4.40 to win, $2.60 to show and $2.20 to place. Kanthaka finished 6 1/2 lengths back in third for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

In other races:

— Trainer John Sadler won his first Santa Anita Handicap with Accelerate’s 5 ½-length victory in the Grade 1 race.

“We turned down Dubai and we turned down (the) Pegasus to run at home where we thought we could be the favorite,” Sadler said after the race. “It turns out we were right. We’ve got a nice horse and we didn’t have to go anywhere.”

Jockey Victor Espinoza said he thought Accelerate was initially “a little bit confused” by the track, which got its share of rain in the afternoon hours.

“He was not really like into that race for maybe the first 20 yards,” Espinoza said, noting that Accelerate then began to feel comfortable and started “running his race.”

Accelerate, a 5-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky, now has six wins, four seconds and five thirds in 17 career starts.

— Bowies Hero pulled off an upset win in the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on turf, with the 16-1 longshot Next Shares coming in second and Channel Maker finishing third. World Approval, the 1-2 favorite, finished a disappointing fifth after four consecutive victories, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and an Eclipse Award win for champion turf male in 2017.

“Take nothing away from World Approval. He traveled over here and he’s done a lot and he’s a tremendous horse for Mr. (Mark) Casse, but today we got the better of him,” said jockey Corey Nakatani, who was aboard Bowies Hero, a 4-year-old colt by Artie Schiller. “He (Bowies Hero) proved he’s a really talented horse.”

— City of Light earned his second consecutive victory as the even-money favorite for jockey Drayden Van Dyke and trainer Michael McCarthy with a 1 ½-length win over Bobby Abu Dhabi in the Grade 1 Triple Bend.

McCarthy called it a “hard-fought battle” and said he was “glad to be on the right end of it” with City of Light, who won the Malibu in his last start Dec. 26.

“I think at some point here we’re going to go ahead and stretch him out …,” McCarthy said when asked if he’s planning another sprint race for the lightly raced 4-year-old son of Quality Road. “But we’ll enjoy this today.”