‘TDN Rising Star‘ Justify (Scat Daddy), almost certainly the most highly regarded horse in the world to have not yet taken on stakes company, will get his class test on Saturday when he faces the likes of MGISW Bolt d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro) in the GI Santa Anita Derby. A 9 1/2-length jaw-dropping debut winner going seven panels here Feb. 18, the $500,000 KEESEP yearling made short work of optional claimers in the slop over an additional furlong Mar. 11. Originally slated to ship to Oaklawn for next week’s GI Arkansas Derby, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert opted to keep the colt at home after Grade I-winning stablemate McKinzie (Street Sense) was ruled out of this race and taken off the GI Kentucky Derby trail. Already favored in last month’s third Derby future wager pool at 6-1, Justify could go even shorter in the final pool that closes Sunday if he’s to reproduce anything close to his first two efforts against the tougher company.
The aforementioned Bolt d’Oro is certainly no slouch, and had a very good case for the juvenile Eclipse Award last year after taking the GI Del Mar Futurity and GI FrontRunner S. The $630,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga grad settled for third after blowing the break in the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but returned to battle McKinzie to within a head in the GII San Felipe S. Mar. 10. Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie made contact repeatedly in the stretch that day, and after a long deliberation the stewards put up Bolt d’Oro in what was a much-talked-about decision.
Larry Best’s $1.05-million OBSMAR acquisition Instilled Regard (Arch) was a close third behind BC Juvenile runner-up Solomini (Curlin) and McKinzie when the stewards reversed the order of finish between those two stablemates in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity in December. He made a strong case for the strength of this year’s California contingent when an easy winner of the GIII Lecomte S. at Fair Grounds Jan. 13, but was a somewhat puzzling fourth in the GII Risen Star S. back there Feb. 17. Finishing one spot ahead of him that day was ‘Rising Star’ Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy), who came back a game winner of the GII Louisiana Derby.