Four years after participating in American Pharoah’s Kentucky Derby (G1), and making just his second start in nearly two years, Bolo resuscitated his career with a 32-1 wire job in Monday’s $501,404 Shoemaker Mile (G1). The Carla Gaines veteran earned a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) over the same Santa Anita course on November 2, and a return to the spotlight that he vacated some time ago.
Indeed, Bolo’s last stakes appearance came in the 2017 edition of the Shoemaker Mile. Fading to sixth behind Bal a Bali in the “Win and You’re In” event, the Temple City gelding did not race again until an April 28 allowance. Bolo understandably tired in his comeback from the 23-month holiday, especially going 1 1/8 miles. But he wasn’t beaten far in fifth by Marckie’s Water, who used the same prep on the way to victory in Saturday’s Charles Whittingham (G2).
Overlooked in this Grade 1 sortie second off the bench, Bolo secured the early lead for new rider Florent Geroux, and his rivals never landed a blow. Golden Pegasus Racing’s seven-year-old rattled off fractions of :23.51, :46.95, and 1:10.44 on the good turf, maintained his tempo down the lane, and clocked the mile in 1:34.07.
The 6-1 River Boyne rallied from midpack, and Bowies Hero closed from the back at 18-1, but neither could get any closer than 1 1/4 lengths. The two crossed the wire together, with the camera determining that River Boyne’s nose was in front of Bowies Hero.
Sharp Samurai, the 2-1 second choice, didn’t pick up in fourth. The 7-1 Catapult gained revenge on Ohio, who’d upended him in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), only they were fifth and sixth here. Delta Prince, the 9-5 favorite, spun his wheels in a lackluster seventh. Le Ken and slow-starting Desert Stone rounded out the order of finish.
Bolo rewarded his loyalists with a $67.80 win mutuel while padding his bankroll to $976,870 from a 19-6-1-4 line. A resounding winner of the 2014 Eddie Logan at this course and distance at two, the dark bay switched to dirt for the Derby trail. After a pair of thirds to Dortmund in the 2015 San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1), and a 12th in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, Bolo rebounded back on the turf in a Santa Anita allowance. His sophomore season ended abruptly in the Belmont Derby (G1), when he was last and vanned off.
Resurfacing in the 2016 Arcadia (G2), Bolo sprang a 7-1 upset of Obviously and placed second in the Kilroe. His form tailed off in his next two, and he again headed to the sidelines. The pattern repeated itself in the 2017 Arcadia, as Bolo once more prevailed in his comeback, then finished third in the Kilroe. He hit the board just once in his next three – a third in the Thunder Road (G3) – and sank from view following the Shoemaker Mile.
Bolo was bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm, home of sire Temple City. His dam, the Chief Seattle mare Aspen Mountain, is also responsible for Grade 3-placed Let Me Go First. This is also the immediate family of current Dubai stakes-placed sophomore Golden Jaguar, and further back, 2009 Kentucky Derby shocker Mine That Bird and multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Dullahan.
Quotes from Santa Anita
Winning trainer Carla Gaines: “The first race in April was a bit far for him and he hadn’t run in basically two years, so it was sort of like let’s get him out there and have him carve out some easy fractions and see if he can keep going. He got a little tired in the end but today he didn’t.
“I’m about to cry right now, I’m really happy for my team really happy for Keith Brackpool and his group, Tim the whole bunch. They allowed me to take the time to get the horse back at a very gentle and slow pace and it worked.
“It’s hard to say in words what this means, I can’t verbalize it. He means everything to our barn, he’s the chief.
“My emotions are coming from the long road back to the track with him and he’s just special. He took me to the Kentucky Derby. We didn’t do so well but we went to the Derby.
“Receiving so much support from everyone and the cheers today from colleagues too, it means the world. I appreciate all the thoughts and well wishes from everyone in the game.
“As I was watching I was thinking I hope we hold on, who’s going to come running at us? When I saw the 46 and four for the half it had me a little worried because the track does have some cut in the ground. I actually walked the turf course this morning because he doesn’t like it too soft, he kind of struggles in it. When I walked it, I thought it felt good.
“After the first race I went to the jocks room and talked to Victor (Espinoza) and Flavien (Prat) because they’ve both ridden the horse. I asked if it was a sort of track that he’d like. I walked over it but I’m 100 pounds and he’s 1,200 pounds so that could make a difference.
“It was a brilliant ride wasn’t it? He really likes a very firm surface so that was my main concern. He lost a little weight after his last start, his first start back, so that was a concern…I couldn’t find anything to worry about.”
On how Florent Geroux got the mount: “To be honest I was a little miffed (about the challenge of finding a locally based jockey). I know he’s a horse from the past and he’s had a long time off but I didn’t have a lot of guys calling me wanting to ride him. I called Derrick Lawson (Prat’s agent) and asked who Prat was riding and he told me he would call Florent’s agent as he was going to be out here riding today. I said it would be heavenly to get him because he’s such a fabulous rider and his agent told me that Florent would ride my horse. I thought he was kidding. He told me that they knew the horse and that he was capable. That’s how I got him. I have to give that one to Derrick!”
Winning rider Florent Geroux: “What an amazing horse and such an amazing job to Carla and her team. She had the horse ready. Last time the horse ran better than what it looked like, it was a bit far for him being a mile and eighth and he only got beat a length and a half so I had all the confidence in the world, I knew the horse was ready this time.
“I’ve seen him run. I’ve followed his career. He’s a nice looking horse. Carla just gave me free rein. Whatever the horse does is fine.
“Right from the beginning he broke sharp to take the lead easily so I said why take him back, the horse took a few good breathers during the race and I knew from that point he was the horse to catch.
“He ran a big race and the pace was legit. I know a few of the horses had trouble behind me. I’ll be back on him for the Breeders’ Cup.”