FrontRunner Stakes Analysis

Profile Picture: James Scully

September 29th, 2017

Saturday’s $300,000 FrontRunner (G1) at Santa Anita serves as a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) five weeks later at Del Mar and the 1 1/16-mile race is also part of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, with the top four finishers earning points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward a berth in the 2018 Kentucky Derby starting gate.

It’s a compelling race. The two leading contenders for the Juvenile presently, Bolt d’Oro and Zatter, lead the way in the nine-horse field and a couple of interesting last-out maiden winners are also entered.

Here’s the field:

#1 Zatter (5-2 morning line): Impressive debut winner came back to just miss in Del Mar Futurity (G1), gamely finishing second, and Midnight Lute colt has displayed fine speed in both starts, registering identical BRIS E1 and E2 Pace ratings of 95 and 103. Zatter figures to be sent from innermost post and is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has won the FrontRunner a record seven times. Serious contender.

#2 Take the One O One (15-1): Led wire-to-wire breaking maiden over California-bred foes two back and weakened to seventh when trying turf most recently in Del Mar Juvenile Turf. Take the One O One could be a pace factor from post 2 but tough to envision him being involved late.

#3 Ayacara (10-1): Late runner got up to break his maiden while stretching out to two turns in his second start but garnered only an 85 BRIS Speed rating for the neck decision. From the first crop of Violence, Ayacara faces a tough task but won’t be surprised to see him finish up well for a minor award.

#4 Bolt d’Oro (2-1): The one to beat. After overcoming a tardy start to win his career debut powerfully, Medaglia d’Oro colt established himself as the early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile taking the Del Mar Futurity from off the pace. Mick Ruis trains the $630,000 2yo purchase and Bolt d’Oro is bred to appreciate the added ground.

#5 City Plan (20-1): Up the track when making his first appearance against Zatter, City Plan came back to break his maiden in a slow time at Los Alamitos and appears overmatched in this spot.

#6 Texas Wedge (6-1): Faces significant class check but maiden claiming scorer is intriguing. Colonel John colt crushed the competition making his lone appearance for a $50,000 tag, rolling to the lead on far turn and striding away in the stretch to a 6 ¼-length tally, and earned a field-best 95 BRIS Speed. Texas Wedge should love the added ground with his pedigree and figures to be forwardly-placed from the start.

#7 Encumbered (8-1): He’s run well on turf the last two starts, comfortably breaking his maiden and rallying to a half-length victory in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf, and Violence colt is bred to relish the sod on both sides of his pedigree. Encumbered has shown nice class but not sure he can play a part from off the pace in a Grade 1 dirt stakes.

#8 Solomini (4-1): Candidate to keep improving upon a commendable debut win at 6 ½-furlongs. By Curlin, chestnut colt is from immediate female family of champion 2yo Midshipman and multiple Grade 1 winner Frosted, breeding that suggests a preference for longer distances, and Baffert-trained Solomini showed good speed tracking the front-runners before closing boldly to win going away by 1 ¾-length margin. The 94 BRIS Speed number fits well here and like the outside draw for the dangerous prospect.

#9 Continental Divide (15-1): Broke his maiden making his second start in a California-bred stakes but Animal Kingdom colt came back with a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the restricted I’m Smokin on September 1. Continetal Divide may find the waters too deep here.

Scully Top 3:





2nd--Bolt d’Oro