Bolo: Contradictions Surface on Derby Trail

It may be that most comments by trainers and jockeys are not useful for the horseplayer, but Bolo’s trainer and jockey have provided us exceptions.

Trainer Carla Gaines recently noted that Bolo ran in the San Felipe because the horse’s owners wanted to try a dirt race, obviously hoping that they would find themselves with a Derby contender. Ms. Gaines, we can confidently infer, would have preferred to keep her charge on the grass, knowing that the horse’s big win in the Eddie Logan indicated she had a horse who could quite possibly emerge as a dominant turf horse. And jockey Victor Espinoza indicated, after Bolo’s 3rd-place finish in the San Felipe, that he momentarily felt that his horse could beat favored Dortmund, but that the latter was “too tough.”

There’s no reason to think that either of these observations are in the least bit deceptive, and neither leads us to believe Bolo is in the process of becoming a Derby contender. I suspect that Gaines would prefer to go back to the turf for Bolo’s next race, but it seems it will be the Santa Anita Derby instead.

It’s certainly not absurd to stay on the Derby trail:  Bolo was a close third in the SF behind Prospect Park, who put in a big late run. (And might have finished second if Espinoza hadn’t had to go inside to avoid Dortmund, who came out slightly.) If Dortmund runs faster earlier in the San Felipe, he of course may not have as much in the stretch and Bolo might pass him. Yet it seems more likely that Dortmund will once again control the pace. and again show more kick in the stretch. (Bolo could show more early and pressure Dortmund, but that seems unlikely to work for a horse who began on the turf.) It is also possible that a faster pace will be to the advantage of Prospect Park more than Bolo.

Unless Bolo improves significantly in the Santa Anita Derby, he shouldn’t be considered a top-tier Kentucky Derby contender.

Trip Taylor