‘Tactical With A Lot Of Heart’: Espinoza Excited About Partnership With Bolt D’Oro

If any jockey knows how to win on the Triple Crown trail, it’s Victor Espinoza.

In the past four years, the Hall of Fame rider has captured five of the six jewels in racing’s most prestigious prize. They were the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness on California Chrome in 2014, and the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 2015 aboard American Pharoah, who became the first horse in 37 years to sweep the three races comprising the Triple Crown.

On the outside looking in for a Derby mount until recently, Espinoza now will attempt to win the Run for the Roses for a fourth time when he pilots Bolt d’Oro for owner/trainer Mick Ruis in the mile and a quarter classic for three-year-olds on May 5.

Javier Castellano had ridden the son of Medaglia d’Oro in his last two starts, but aborted in favor of Florida Derby winner Audible for Todd Pletcher, leaving Bolt d’Oro available for Espinoza, who had worked the colt twice before.

“We had conversations about Victor getting the mount during Bolt’s last two races,” said Espinoza’s agent, Brian Beach, “and there was considerable interest on both sides. When Castellano took off officially, Victor and Mick met for dinner one night and sealed the deal.”

Espinoza won the Derby in 2002 on War Emblem for Bob Baffert, in 2014 on California Chrome for Art Sherman, and in 2015 on American Pharoah, also trained by Baffert.

“Victor’s very excited,” Beach said. “He got a little taste of Bolt working him twice prior to his first start back (in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10). He got excited then and he’s even more excited now, to join up with him in a race.

“He feels like he fits him very well. That’s his kind of horse, tactical with a lot of heart, and his third race off a layoff should be his best. A bit of pressure is off of him, too (with unbeaten Justify’s win in the Santa Anita Derby stamping him as the Kentucky Derby favorite).

“We’re just hoping everything goes smoothly between now and May 5. We’re trying to help Mick get a Kentucky Derby win.”

The post ‘Tactical With A Lot Of Heart’: Espinoza Excited About Partnership With Bolt D’Oro appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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