by SCOTT SHAPIRO
As usual, Southern California is well represented among the 360 three-year-olds nominated to this year’s Triple Crown series that begins with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 5 at Churchill Downs.
With three months until the Derby and Future Wager Pool 2 this weekend (CLICK HERE for FREE Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs of all 23 individual interests plus selected field horses), now seems like a good time to discuss the prospects of West Coast-based horses hoping to Run for the Roses, as well as which runners may be worth fading in the upcoming pool.
As Brisnet.com’s Southern California handicapper for Daily Selections full-card analysis with best bets, I’m familiar with the circuit, so without further adieu, here are my thoughts on the top three-year-olds in Southern California:
McKinzie leads all West Coast based horses with 20 qualifying points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” leaderboard. I gave him out at as my play in Kentucky Derby Future Pool 1 where he closed at 12-to-1.
The Bob Baffert-conditioned son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner and Darley stallion Street Sense is a perfect 3 for 3 that includes being moved up through DQ in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity in December. He will need to continue to improve and become more professional if he wants to earn his world-class trainer his fifth Kentucky Derby, but he is definitely amongst the top contenders three months out.
Ruis Racing’s Bolt d’Oro entered the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar undefeated and the odds-on favorite, but got off to a slow start, was caught wide throughout and could do no better than third.
The fine looking son of Medaglia d’Oro went off as the second choice (7-1) to the mutuel field in Kentucky Derby Future Pool 1, but a pulled muscle has kept him from racing thus far in 2018. He is expected to make his three-year-old debut in the Grade 2 $400,000 San Felipe Stakes on March 10.
Bolt d’Oro certainly has the physical ability to win the Kentucky Derby, but the fact things have not gone as planned for the $630,000 FTS August 2016 purchase makes him difficult to endorse in future wagering. He is a fade for me in the upcoming pool since I put his chances of running on the first Saturday of May slightly above even-money at this point.
Solomini was disqualified and placed third in a controversial decision by the Los Alamitos stewards in the aforementioned Cash Call Futurity, but he still has accrued 14 qualifying points thus far. The Zayat Stables colt has won 2 of 4, but I think he is a cut below the top Triple Crown contenders in 2018. I will fade him as well.
Instilled Regard also has compiled 14 qualifying points and is a colt that has really moved forward since stretching out to two turns. His runner-up effort in the Cash Call Futurity illustrated he could compete with the likes of McKinzie and Solomini and his three and three-quarter length score in the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fairgrounds stamped him as a top-tier threat for this year’s Derby. I am a buyer on the $1.05 million dollar purchase for OXO Equine LLC.
Greyvitos, Mourinho, and Robert B. Lewis winner Lombo have 10 qualifying points based on victories this winter, but I have serious concerns with their ability to get a mile and a quarter. I will wait to see more until I consider them legitimate threats in the Triple Crown series.
Of the three-year-olds yet to accumulate any points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Gary and Mary West’s Restoring Hope represents the colt with the most upside.
The son of Giant’s Causeway failed to break his maiden over his initial two tries, but won nicely on Friday. Trainer Bob Baffert is almost certain to try graded stakes competition in his next race. The late start is far from ideal, but the upside appears to be there. At the right price he makes for an interesting play in Future Pool 2.
The rest of the Southern California based horses that were nominated early for the Triple Crown series are on the outside looking in at this point.
Scott Shapiro handicaps horse races for Brisnet.com and writes about them for TwinSpires.com, BetAmerica.com, and KentuckyDerby.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottShap34