Three Kentucky Derby preps highlighted an incredible weekend of racing from coast to coast, and Santa Anita gave us a race for the ages. There is nothing better than a good old-fashioned stretch duel, and in Saturday’s Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, McKinzie and Bolt d’Oro gave us quite a show, and true to form, the race was not without major drama. Here is our take on what happened on Saturday, plus our Three Stars of the Week:
The horse racing Gods give, and the horse racing Gods taketh away. McKinzie was incredibly fortunate to “win” the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity to end his 2-year-old year, and on Saturday in the San Felipe, he was incredibly unfortunate to “lose.” After getting solid early position in the race, Bolt d’Oro drew even with him at the top of the lane, and a battle ensued over the entire stretch, with McKinzie winning by a head in a race that we’ll be talking about for a long time.
However, there was bumping on the turn, and then again just before the wire. On the turn, Bolt d’Oro brushed McKinzie twice, causing him to lose a bit of momentum, then right as they neared the wire, McKinzie came out on Bolt d’Oro. There’s no question that the interference right before the wire could have caused Bolt d’Oro to lose the race, which the stewards determined was the case by unanimous decision. What about the interference at the top of the stretch? Amazingly, the stewards ruled that to be inconclusive.
As a spectator, you have to laugh at the stewards’ statement that this was inconclusive. In fact, for the longest time, the replay of the bumping at the top of the stretch was all we at Santa Anita were being shown as we waited what felt like hours for the final decision. I had no doubt that the result would stand after watching that replay, as McKinzie did nothing wrong, but then we were finally shown the interference at the wire. Seeing that replay, there was no question that there was interference, but how can you make one call and not the other? To me, this was a case of “offsetting penalties.” They both interfered with each other, so the stewards should have left it alone. McKinzie was turned sideways at the top of the stretch from bumping, yet it was ruled inconclusive.
In the end, I guess it’s proof that things tend to even out. In my opinion, McKinzie should not have been put up to first in the Los Alamitos Futurity, and Saturday, he should not have come down in the San Felipe. All of this drama aside, we did learn one thing on Saturday: at this point in time, these two horses are far and away the two most likely to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
2. Bolt d’Oro
Obviously, if I felt that McKinzie deserved the number-one star, then Bolt d’Oro had to be the second star this week. The move he made on the turn in the San Felipe was pretty brilliant, and he showed incredible heart to battle down the lane neck and neck with McKinzie for the entire stretch. It also should be noted that this was his first race of the season after a four-month layoff, which makes what he did Saturday that much more impressive. With this performance, you have to love him going forward to the Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies. He can sit in a stalking position early on, make a big move on the turn to get into position, then stay on and finish the race down the lane. That is the blueprint for winning the Kentucky Derby.
— Racing Dudes (@racing_dudes) March 10, 2018
The questions of distance limitations loomed large for Accelerate in last Saturday’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap, but he put those questions to bed rather quickly with a dominating victory. After stalking Mubtaahij‘s early pace, Accelerate took over at the top of the stretch with only mild urging to splash home to a 5 1/4-length victory. The win gave Accelerate his first career Grade 1 triumph and moved him to the top of the list of Southern California horses currently pointed for races in the United States. There’s solid money to be madr for a horse like Accelerate this time of year due to many of the top handicap horses pointing for Dubai, and it’s likely that he will continue to take advantage of this situation.