Bolt d’Oro

KENTUCKY Derby 144 Preview

By Jeff Nunn of | Photos by Amber Chalfin

Bolt d’Oro

Bolt d’Oro

As the calendar turns to March, the majority of people who

reside in this area will be closely paying attention to college basketball.

I also will be intently watching college basketball, but I can’t help but

start getting myself familiar with the contenders for the 144th running

of the Kentucky Derby. While I follow thoroughbred horse racing year-

round, I don’t follow it quite as closely as I do from February through June.

Now let’s take a look at a few of the horses I believe are currently top

contenders for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby.

Bolt d’Oro: Also known as the Bolt Show, he is the most polished

contender. He is the favorite to win Derby as tabbed by Las Vegas. He

raced four times as a 2-year-old, winning three times and running third

once. The one third place finish came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile,

where he ran wide the entire race. It was estimated that running so wide

cost him about 10 lengths. Bolt lost by a total of 5 . lengths. As a result of

the race (I believe), regular jockey Corey Nakatani was replaced by Javier

Castellano. Javier will be on board when Bolt makes his 3-year-old debut

in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10. A pulled muscle kept Bolt d’Oro from

making his 3-year-old debut in the San Vicente at Santa Anita, but he is

fully healthy now and training very well. He is the son of Medaglia d’Oro,

who was a runner-up in both the Belmont and Breeders’ Cup Classic. He

finished 4th in the 2002 Kentucky Derby.

Good Magic: Has raced three times as a 2-year-old. He ran second in both

of his first two starts. He finally broke his maiden in the biggest race of the

year, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, making him the 2-year-old champion.

That win was impressive and some experts believe he will continue

to get better from that performance – and I agree. It is likely we will see

him on March 3 where it is believed he will make his 3-year-old debut

in the Fountain of Youth Stakes race. He was the most expensive of the

contenders, going for $1 million as a yearling. He is the son of Curlin, who

was a two-time Horse of the Year and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner.

McKinzie: This Bob Baffert-trained colt is undefeated in three starts as a

2-year-old. The connections are deciding between the San Felipe Stakes

on March 10 or the Rebel Stakes on March 17 to make his 3-year-old debut.

I’m guessing the Rebel is more likely so he won’t have to face Bolt d’Oro

until the Kentucky Derby. Baffert named the horse after Brad McKinzie, a

longtime friend of the trainer and a former executive for Los Alamitos Race

Course who passed away. He is a very dangerous horse and one to keep an

eye on as it gets closer to the first Saturday in May. He is the son of 2007

Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense.

Audible: This horse has four races under his belt, winning three of them

and finishing third in the other. He made an impressive 3-year-old debut

by winning the Grade 2 Holy Bull, beating several Derby contenders. This

Todd Pletcher-trained colt will likely race next in the Florida Derby on

March 31. If he were to win that race impressively, then look for him to

be in the mix for the Run for the Roses. I think people want to see a little

more out of him before they are ready to talk about him as a Top 3 Derby

contender. Regardless, he is worth watching to see if he progresses.

Justify: This horse did not race as a 2-year-old and just had his first race on

Feb. 18 – but he won so impressively he is now on the Derby trail. Trainer

Bob Baffert said he has a plan and that Justify will likely be headed to the

Kentucky Derby. However, we do not know the plan. I assume he will have

two races prior to the Derby and hopefully earn enough points to enter.

Could be very interesting but, in my opinion, he most likely won’t win the

Kentucky Derby because history says so. No horse that didn’t race as a

2-year-old has won the Kentucky Derby since Apollo in 1882. Curlin (3rd

in 2007) and Bodemeister (2nd in 2012) were the 2 closest to break that

streak – but didn’t. Could Justify actually do it? We’ll have to wait and see.

A lot can, and will, change before May so this list may make several

alterations between now and then. Unless there is an injury, I feel pretty

confident that the Top 2 will be the ones to beat. They seem to be just a little

better than all the rest. That’s not so say that one of the others can’t improve

enough to beat them.

Most people are aware that for a horse to gain admittance to the Kentucky

Derby, they must do so through a points system called Road to the Kentucky

Derby. This point system was established in 2012 for the 2013 Kentucky Derby

and has had several changes over the past few years. This system currently

allows the 18 horses with the most points earned through the designated

races to enter the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. The final two

spots to complete the full field of 20 horses will be filled from the winners

of Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby and European Road to the Kentucky

Derby. The European Road to the Kentucky Derby is new for the 2018 race,

while the Japanese entrant was established in 2017.

The Road to the Kentucky derby is broken up into 2 separate series. The

first is called prep season consisting of 20 races that earn smaller amounts

of points towards gaining a spot in the KY Derby. The second series is called

Kentucky Derby Championship Series. It consists of 16 races that are much

more prestigious, where horses have the opportunity to earn much more

points than the prep series. There are seven races where the winner can earn

100 points. Therefore, owners and trainers can pick their spots carefully as

to find the races that are most beneficial for the combination of earning

points as well as time off between races.

These championship races will be exciting to watch and will be the key

determining factor as to whom I place my win wager on for the Run for the

Roses. If you want to win some money on the Derby, watch these races and

see which horses make steady improvements with every start.

Jeff Nunn bet and won his first Kentucky Derby in 1994. Since then, he

has bet the Kentucky Derby every year, during two of which his Derby horse

scratched and he didn’t get to change my wager. In 18 of the remaining 22

Kentucky Derbys, the horse Jeff wagered on finished in the Top 4. He has

correctly wagered on the winner eight times while hitting the exacta in six

of those years. Luck or expertise? You decide (and take Jeff’s advice at your

own risk). Regardless, always gamble responsibly.

Jeff Nunn’s Top 10 Kentucky Derby Horses

Bolt d’Oro

Good Magic




Avery Island


Vino Rosso

Copper Bullet

Catholic Boy

Other notables to watch: Enticed, Free Drop Billy, Flameaway,

Firenze Fire, Bravazo, Mourinho, Impact Player, Principe

Guiherme, Magnum Moon and Sporting Chance.


Good Magic

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