It’s been a bit quiet on the Kentucky Derby trail over the last week, but that won’t be the case for much longer.
The upcoming Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park
promises to be one of the most significant Derby prep races to date, and two races on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby are scheduled to be held this Thursday and Friday.
I’ll kick off this action-packed week with my latest Kentucky Derby Top 10 rankings….
He was eager to get going in his final work before the Fountain of Youth Stakes, tossing his head around a bit before settling down to breeze four furlongs in an easy :48.30. While a strong effort on Saturday would be ideal, he doesn’t necessarily need to win to remain a major Derby contender—remember, two of trainer ’s best Derby candidates to date (Normandy Invasion and Practical Joke) were beaten in both of their pre-Derby prep races before improving sharply in the Derby itself.
Unleashed an eye-catching workout on February 24th at Santa Anita, breaking off about six or seven lengths behind stablemate Downtowner before reeling him in with authority and pulling away on the gallop out. Officially, he was given a time of 1:25.40 for seven furlongs, but McKinzie continued strongly past the wire and looks great as he continues to gear up for a March return.
He completed his major preparations for the March 10th San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) by turning in a well-publicized six-furlong workout from the starting gate on February 26th. With jockey Javier Castellano in the saddle, Bolt d’Oro was a bit slow coming out of the gate and broke about two lengths behind his workmate, but moved up smoothly around the turn to reach even terms and was tons the best in the homestretch, pulling away easily to stop the clock in a bullet 1:12 flat before galloping out strongly. He looks ready to roll in his much-anticipated three-year-old debut.
Returned to the work tab on February 22nd, breezing four furlongs in :49.50 at Palm Beach Downs.
He’s expected to make his stakes debut in the March 17th Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park, where he’ll face a stiff class test against a tough field that will include either McKinzie or Solomini.
Although Justify’s sire, Scat Daddy, isn’t really known for siring classic runners on dirt, Justify is a half-brother to a couple of horses that won going a mile or farther, and his dam—Stage Magic—was also very successful in two-turn races. I don’t think stamina will be a stumbling block for Justify.
Stepped up to seven furlongs in his most recent workout, going in company with the recent maiden winner Restoring Hope and clocking the distance in a bullet 1:24.80, a fifth of a second faster than his stablemate.
Bravazo’s pedigree is loaded with stamina, as his sire—Awesome Again—won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and has sired the likes of Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Oxbow, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winners Ginger Punch and Round Pond, while Bravazo’s dam—Tiz o’ Gold—was a six-time winner going a mile or farther.
Returned to the work tab on February 22nd, going an easy half-mile in :48 flat while working outside of stablemate and recent maiden winner Ike.
Free Drop Billy
Wrapped up his preparations for the Fountain of Youth Stakes by breezing five furlongs in 1:01.55 on February 24th. While I do wonder if he might ultimately wind up best as a miler and/or a turf horse, he can certainly cement his Derby credentials with a strong effort against Good Magic on Saturday.