Mike Hartnett: Derby favorite could emerge from San Felipe Stakes

Mike Hartnett: Derby favorite could emerge from San Felipe Stakes
Mike Hartnett's Racing Roundup

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Saturday at approximately 5:45 p.m., we could have a definitive favorite for the Kentucky Derby.

Bolt d'Oro and McKinzie, the two colts considered to be the top two contenders for the Run for the Roses, will square off in Santa Anita's San Felipe Stakes.

McKinzie is undefeated and he's handled by a pair of Hall of Famers: trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith. This runner has improved with each race.

Bolt d'Oro flashed brilliance last year before suffering his lone defeat in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Saturday's race will mark his 3-year-old debut.

McKinzie got the jump on Bolt as the Baffert runner began his 3-year-old season with a solid victory in Santa Anita's Sham Stakes two months ago.

On Monday of this week, Bolt d'Oro turned in an impressive workout. He could be ready to dazzle again. But "could" is the key word here. Is the Bolt cranked up enough to face the likes of McKinzie?

"We've got a plan," Bolt d'Oro's trainer Mick Ruis said.

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The San Felipe isn't really the race we're pointing for," Ruis told the Santa Anita publicity department. "He's got a lot of talent. He'll really be good in the Santa Anita Derby."

Hmmm. Sounds like maybe advantage McKinzie. When this guy captured the Sham, he had the look of a very professional racehorse. Still, Bolt d'Oro proved as a 2-year-old that he's loaded with talent, and that talent could carry the day in the San Felipe.

It shapes up as the most anticipated Kentucky Derby prep to date. But there's a hitch and this significant matchup may not happen. You see, there's a 70 percent chance of showers for Saturday.

Trainer Ruis tells Santa Anita that if the track comes up sloppy, he's gonna scratch. Then Bolt d'Oro would end in next weekend's Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Rain, rain go away! The Road to the Roses could use a marquee matchup to spice things up.

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