Harrington: ‘Not A Sliver Of Difference’ Between Bolt D’Oro And McKinzie

A rematch of mythic proportions could be in the offing next Saturday when Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie are scheduled to do battle in the $1 million, Grade I Santa Anita Derby.

The three-year-old colts, leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby on May 5, ran the gauntlet for nearly a quarter mile in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10, McKinzie crossing the wire a head in front only to be disqualified to second for bumping incidents in the stretch.

Now ranked first and second nationally in two weekly polls of three-year-olds, and owners of identical Beyer Figures of 101 among three-year-olds male or female, there appears to be but a modicum of difference between Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie.

Private clocker Andy Harrington concurs.

“There’s not much that separates these two horses,” said Harrington, 54, now approaching three decades as one of the most respected men in his profession. “McKinzie added blinkers for his most recent work (five furlongs in 59.40 last Monday) and was more into the bit, and really galloped out well. I think he’ll be ridden more aggressively (by Mike Smith in the Santa Anita Derby).

“The last drill by Bolt (four furlongs Monday in 47 flat) was terrific. He did the same thing he was doing going into the San Felipe, which was running down a workmate and drawing clear. He’s bounced back well.

“I can’t imagine those two not running around the track together in the Santa Anita Derby, at least certainly in the lane. They’re far ahead of any other three-year-olds that might be running in the race.”

As to which horse is better, the jury is still out.

“McKinzie was cranked up almost 100 percent for the San Felipe, and Bolt was about 90, and he still almost won on the square,” Harrington said. “Bolt has been underestimated, if you can say that about a horse of his caliber, because Bob Baffert has the top two guys out here in McKinzie and Justify.

“I was stunned that McKinzie didn’t pull away from Bolt in the San Felipe, because I really didn’t think Bolt was 100 percent cranked up for the race . . . I can’t really separate the two, although I think Bolt’s got more fortitude, more in him.

“I was very impressed with McKinzie in the San Felipe after he was hooked and bounced around at the 3/16 pole and then came back on, because sometimes he’s slightly timid, but that didn’t happen in the San Felipe because he had trained so well. I think putting blinkers back on might make him a bit more aggressive.

“That being said, I can’t imagine them being more than a length apart at the wire (in the Santa Anita Derby), although I do think McKinzie will be ridden from the bell and they’ll have to run him down. They’ll have to catch him.

“I don’t expect either horse to have a fast final work, just something easy.

“To me, there’s not a sliver of difference between the two of them.”

Bolt d’ Oro and McKinzie are scheduled to have their final major breezes Monday for the 81st edition of the Santa Anita Derby, a race Baffert has won a record seven times.

Lecomte Stakes winner Instilled Regard, who will be ridden by Joel Rosario in the Santa Anita Derby, will have his last serious drill for the race at 6:45 Saturday morning under exercise rider Edgar Rodriguez, said Dan Ward, assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer.

The Santa Anita Derby at 1 1/8 miles awards 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.

The post Harrington: ‘Not A Sliver Of Difference’ Between Bolt D’Oro And McKinzie appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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