There’s one major question heading into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Saturday: is Bolt d’Oro for real?
The son of Medaglia d’Oro has swept all before him in three starts in California. He won his maiden well, rallied from well back to win the Del Mar Futurity (G1), and produced an outstanding effort to rout his opposition in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita.
His efforts have been visually outstanding, better than any 2-year-old to date in 2017. But there has to be a question about just how good the horses he’s beaten are. It’s possible they’re not that good, but it’s also possible he just makes them look bad.
The only other horse backing up from the FrontRunner is runner-up Solomini, and though it’s hard to imagine him turning the tables on Bolt d’Oro, he has some chance of running in the money.
A number of raiders from the East – including one from a very long way East – are coming to take on Bolt d’Oro, including three winners at the top level.
Two of those horses, Free Drop Billy and Firenze Fire, have met twice before. Firenze Fire beat Free Drop Billy in the Sanford Stakes (G3) at Saratoga, before both were beaten by Sporting Chance (a non-runner in this race) in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, with Free Drop Billy finishing second and Firenze Fire fourth.
They then went their separate ways to win grade one races: Free Drop Billy by a long way in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, and Firenze Fire in a stylish manner in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park.
Good Magic, Hazit, and Bahamian were all beaten by Firenze Fire in the Champagne Stakes, though their connections will be hoping they can turn that around, while Givemeaminit was beaten by Free Drop Billy in both the Hopeful Stakes (though in finishing third he finished ahead of Firenze Fire) and the Breeders’ Futurity.
Entering the race via the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs are its winner, The Tabulator, and runner-up, Hollywood Star. They were well clear of their opposition, but it’s hard to be sure if they’re up to this level.
The wild card in the race is Aidan O’Brien’s U S Navy Flag. He showed good but not outstanding form most of the year in Europe, but improved sharply in the last six weeks, winning both the Middle Park Stakes (G1) and the Dewhurst Stakes (G1). He hasn’t run on dirt, but being by War Front, he has some chance.
The field is completed by another horse that hasn’t run on dirt, Golden Dragon. He also hasn’t run in stakes company and though he’s won his last two, it would be a surprise if he made it three.
Most of the form points towards Bolt d’Oro winning this race, unless he’s simply been beating up on lesser animals in his previous races. But don’t rule out Free Drop Billy and Firenze Fire, and U S Navy Flag shouldn’t be forgotten either.