It wasn’t exactly Joe Namath “guaranteeing” victory, but Mick Ruis did say this about

Bolt d’Oro’s attempt to vanquish favored Justify in tomorrow’s Santa Anita Derby: “We’re not going let him get away from us. We’re going to be within a length and a half behind him. Bolt runs on heart and courage.”

And so the gauntlet has been thrown.

Now fans worldwide await the Race of the Year, a Grade I event with a million dollars and 170 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on May 5 up for grabs.

Ruis, owner/trainer of Bolt d’Oro, is considerably happier than just being here, considering his colt has been playing catch up in training from the start of his three-year-old season early this year.

A pulled muscle forced Bolt d’Oro to miss his intended start in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 10, causing him to wait until the San Felipe Stakes on March 10. Estimated by Ruis to be 80 percent fit for that race, Bolt finished a head behind McKinzie at the wire after a stirring stretch duel, but was moved into first by the stewards for bumping incidents down the lane.

Turns out, Ruis couldn’t have scripted a better scenario leading to the Santa Anita Derby. “If I had written down on a piece of paper where I wanted him to be for this race, I couldn’t have done it any better,” Ruis said. “We’re beyond happy with his development since coming back from his muscle pull. I wouldn’t trade our horse for any other out there.

“He’s training fantastic, and it’s going to be a heckuva horse race with Justify. Any horse who’s only won an allowance race and is picked by an expert like Jeff Siegel to win the Santa Anita Derby, and is made the 4-5 favorite by the oddsmaker (Jon White), clearly indicates how high Justify is rated by pros in the know.

“Bolt’s going to be up against it, but don’t get me wrong; we really want to win the Santa Anita Derby. It’s not the end-all and do-all,” however. “We’re planning to get out of this in good shape and then get every inch of the mile and a quarter at Churchill Downs.”

If Ruis goes in the Run for the Roses, it will mark a first for him and his wife, Wendy, part owner of Bolt d’Oro, and thus provide a proverbial breath of fresh air for media types of every form, social, print, radio and television.

“Mick Ruis is an asset to the game,” said agent Tony Matos, representative of jockeys who have won the Derby six times and now calling the shots for Santa Anita’s leading rider, 2017 Eclipse Award winner as outstanding apprentice Evin Roman.

“Mick works hard, invests his money in racing, runs his horses and gives everybody a chance,” Matos said.

Estimated post time for the 81st Santa Anita Derby is 4:12 p.m. Pacific Time. The race will be televised on NBC 2 Sports.

The Santa Anita Derby, race nine on a 13-race program that starts at 11:30 a.m.: Instilled Regard, Joel Rosario, 5-1; Orbit Rain, Brice Blanc, 50-1; Bolt d’Oro, Javier Castellano, 6-5; Jimmy Chila, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1; $20,000 supplemental nominee Pepe Tono, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Justify, Mike Smith, 4-5; and Core Beliefs, Tyler Baze, 20-1.

Ruis said Friday that he does plan to run Bolt d’Oro’s stablemate, the maiden Orbit Rain.



Instilled Regard drew the rail for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, but Jerry Hollendorfer isn’t losing any sleep over it, not that a trainer who’s at the barn by 3 a.m. could afford to lose any more than he already does.

“I don’t think it’s going to hurt us any,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “There’s going to be some speed in there so we’ll do the best we can from the rail.”

Told Bob Baffert trainee Justify looks like he’ll be in front, Hollendorfer took it in stride, saying, “Bob’s horses usually are.”


Save for a poor start in the Grade I Del Mar Debutante last September, Spectator’s record could be perfect when she starts in Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks.

As it stands, the chestnut daughter of Jimmy Creed owned and bred in Kentucky by Rick and Sharon Walter is three for four, including a 5 ¼ length romp in the Grade II Sorrento Stakes last August 5. None of her races have been beyond seven furlongs.

“We’re trying two turns for the first time,” trainer Phil D’Amato pointed out, “but she is undefeated here at Santa Anita (in two starts) and is coming off a nice win after a layoff, so she’s set to run good.”

The Santa Anita Oaks, race 11: First Dudette, Rajiv Maragh, 30-1; Spring Lily, Victor Espinoza, 6-1; Midnight Bisou, Mike Smith, 30-1; Fool’s Paradise, Mario Gutierrez, 30-1; Finess Bere, Drayden Van Dyke, 15-1; Exuberance, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Spectator, Javier Castellano, 3-1; We All Have Dreams, Joel Rosario, 12-1; and Thirteen Squared, Tyler Baze, 9-2.



Treasuring has improved in each of her three starts in the United States, all stakes, and Simon Callaghan hopes the trend lands the English-bred filly in the winner’s circle for Saturday’s Grade III Providencia Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

“I think she’ll like the distance,” the trainer said. “She’s training well and we’re hoping for a good performance.”

The field for the Providencia, race five: Pulpit Rider, Corey Nakatani, 9-2; Lexington Grace, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Treasuring, Rajiv Maragh, 10-1; Paved, Drayden Van Dyke, 2-1; Ms Bad Behavior, Kent Desormeaux, 5-2; Fatale Bere, Joel Rosario, 6-1; Retro, Mike Smith, 10-1; Florista, Tyler Conner, 20-1; and Deep Breath, Tyler Baze, 50-1.



“Off slow, off bit slow, off slow” are three of four trouble line comments for Deep Breath in her abbreviated career, in which she has never finished closer than seventh in four starts in the United States, all of them stakes at a flat mile on grass.

Irish-born Eoin Harty hopes an equipment change and a longer distance will improve matters for the Irish-bred filly in Saturday’s Providencia Stakes at a mile and an eighth on turf.

“We’re hoping a mile and an eighth, the addition of blinkers and having her sit a little closer to the pace will achieve that,” Harty said. “She’s got a lot of improving to do to beat these guys but I think she’s heading in the right direction.

“She’s doing a lot better than she was earlier in the winter.”



With lucrative purse money available for California-breds, Steve Specht usually makes his annual trek from his Northern California base to Santa Anita, and Saturday is no exception.

The veteran trainer and Illinois native has three horses entered, two in the $200,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for three-year-olds at 6 ½ furlongs and one in the $200,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for three-year-old fillies at 6 ½ furlongs.

Rewired and Fire When Ready go in the Echo Eddie and Blessed Lady runs in the Evening Jewel. Rewired has three wins and a second in four starts at Golden Gate Fields, while Fire When Ready was fourth in the California Cup Derby at Santa Anita following two victories against lesser.

Blessed Lady, a daughter of the late Lucky Pulpit, has shown speed in her five career races, leading before finishing second last out at Golden Gate on March 11.

“They shipped down here in good shape and we’re in a little tough but we’ve got to take a shot,” Specht said. “All three of my horses try, so we’ll hope for the best.”

The Echo Eddie, race six: Rewired, Tyler Baze, 12-1; Campaigner, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; Heck Yeah, Mike Smith, 7-5; Take the One O One, Joe Talamo, 8-5; supplemental nominee Shaymin, Mario Gutierrez, 15-1; Fire When Ready, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Generally Lucky, Stewart Elliott, 20-1; and Psycho Dar, Evin Roman, 6-1.

The field for the Evening Jewel, race four: Spiced Perfection, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Ismeluck, Edwin Maldonado, 12-1; One Fast Broad, Javier Castellano, 5-2; Smiling Tigress, Tyler Baze, 4-1; Empress of Lov, Tiago Pereira, 12-1; Wishful, Joel Rosario, 20-1; Blessed Lady, Evin Roman, 12-1; and Show It N Moe It, Mike Smith, 9-5.


Matt Garcia has ridden all manner of horses in his career, and on Saturday will be astride a nine-year-old Arabian horse, Mystical Mhf A, in the $100,000, Grade I HH Sheika Fatima Bint Mubarak at 1 1/16 miles.

“It’s a different style,” the 47-year-old San Jose native said of riding Arabians. “They are temperamental and you have to know how to get along with them, read what they want. I’ve been on horseback my whole life and each breed is different with different styles and different mind sets.

“You’ve got to be very versatile on all of them, Arabians, Thoroughbreds, Appaloosas, Morgans, Quarter horses, and I’ve been very versatile my whole life. They have different attitudes and you’ve got to learn to get along with them.

“I’ve ridden them all, except for mules. They’re very stubborn, and I’m stubborn too.”



This Sunday, April 8, the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) will air its first telethon live on the TVG Network in association with Betfair. America’s racing community will join together to support the dedicated efforts of the PDJF, which provides benefits each month to nearly 60 former riders who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.

Superstar guest jockeys of today and yesterday will field calls from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Viewers can call 1-844-TVG-PDJF to say hello and make a donation to support the PDJF. Expected to participate are active Hall of Fame jockeys Mike Smith, John Velazquez and Javier Castellano, as well as retired Hall of Famers Pat Day, Chris McCarron and Ramon Dominguez, plus renowned Quarter Horse jockeys Cody Jensen and Eddie Garcia.

The PDJF is a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides financial assistance to former jockeys who have suffered on-track injuries. Since its creation in 2006, nearly $9 million has been distributed for disabled jockeys, most of whom have sustained paralysis or brain injuries.

With no guaranteed source of funding, the PDJF is 100% reliant on donations.


FINISH LINES: With Santa Anita’s Winter Meet ending Sunday, Bob Baffert holds a 32-30 lead over suspended Peter Miller in quest of another training title. Baffert already has 11 Spring/Summer crowns and last won in 2012-13. Evin Roman leads Flavien Prat in the jockeys’ race, 46-43 . . . There is a Single Ticket Jackpot Pool carryover today of $401,199 and a $300,000 guaranteed pool in the Late Pick Four . . . Congratulations to Diego Sanchez and apprentice Edgar Payeras on winning their first races at Santa Anita Thursday. Payeras piloted Magicalchic to a neck victory at 11-1 for owner/trainer Louis Bradvica in the second race, while Sanchez won the first for Doug O’Neill by a half-length on Reign On at 4-1. Sanchez, a 41-year-old native of Spain, has been riding in the U.S. since 2006, at tracks such as Arlington, Hawthorne and even those in Southern California, never winning at The Great Race Place until yesterday. “It was exciting,” said the affable Sanchez, who is representing himself. “This is the best jockey colony, so it will be good for my career if I can succeed here. I’m trying every day to pick up business, and winning certainly helps.” . . . Jockey Rajiv Maragh will return to ride in New York following his obligations Sunday at Santa Anita, where he had 15 wins from 158 mounts through Friday after a slow getaway at the Winter Meet. “He has good business in New York,” said his agent, Nelson Arroyo, who will remain with Alonso Quinonez. “Rajiv should have done a lot better here. We both feel people didn’t appreciate his talent. He’s a great rider, very smart with lots of class, and great to work with. He had a good time here and enjoyed it, but he has a home back in New York and felt it was time to return.” . . . Kyle Frey rides Blended Citizen for O’Neill in Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, where San Vicente winner Kanthaka runs for Jerry Hollendorfer . . . Condolences to the family of Dave Dixon, affectionately known throughout the track as “Coach Dave,” who passed away March 21 at 93. A Celebration of Life was held for “Coach” this morning at Clockers’ Corner. A retired Air Force NCO, Dixon was an iconic figure in Pasadena youth sports, an everyday horseplayer and was a beloved member of the Santa Anita family. Condolences are also in order to the family of Robert (Chuckles) Hernandez, who passed away this past Sunday in Solana Beach. An integral part of the track maintenance crew at Del Mar, Bay Meadows, Los Alamitos and Golden Gate Fields over a 40-year period, Hernandez was believed to be 90 years of age . . . Fans wishing to attend Clockers’ Corner on Santa Anita Derby Day are advised that Baldwin Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic between the 210 Freeway and Huntington Drive from 7:45 a.m. until 9 a.m. in order to accommodate foot traffic related to Santa Anita’s annual Derby Day 5k Run and Walk. Those visiting Clockers’ Corner Derby Day morning can enter the track at Santa Anita’s northeastern perimeter via Gate 5, or on the track’s southern perimeter, via Gate 3 at Holly Avenue . .  . Private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young and Xpressbet’s John DeSantis, a former jockey agent, will be Tom Quigley‘s guests, Saturday and Sunday, respectively, 10:20 a.m., in the East Paddock Gardens . . . Jason Levin, host of Inside Racing Saturdays at 7 a.m. on AM 1150 and, hosts a handicapping seminar tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon in Santa Anita’s Baldwin Terrace, joined by Steve Pollack and Jay Friedlander. Cost is $25 and includes giveaways, programs and donuts.


(Current Through Thursday, April 5)
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Evin Roman 305 46 50 49 15% 48% $1,634,039
Flavien Prat 228 43 47 31 19% 53% $2,446,071
Drayden Van Dyke 166 36 22 19 22% 46% $2,185,779
Tyler Baze 281 35 43 37 12% 41% $2,134,574
Joseph Talamo 210 31 24 32 15% 41% $1,382,009
Kent Desormeaux 154 31 17 19 20% 44% $1,595,701
Rafael Bejarano 181 29 20 33 16% 45% $1,254,076
Geovanni Franco 176 26 24 22 15% 41% $1,276,587
Tyler Conner 132 19 10 17 14% 35% $638,754
Corey Nakatani 108 18 21 12 17% 47% $1,410,303
Stewart Elliott 164 18 16 14 11% 29% $702,637
Mike Smith 80 18 14 9 23% 51% $1,735,223
Tiago Pereira 172 17 23 22 10% 36% $800,024
Rajiv Maragh 158 15 19 18 9% 33% $782,582
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won
Bob Baffert 106 32 18 12 30% 58% $1,896,288
Peter Miller 143 30 33 19 21% 57% $1,611,009
Richard Baltas 170 28 26 19 16% 43% $1,542,602
Philip D’Amato 132 21 23 18 16% 47% $1,675,409
Jerry Hollendorfer 129 20 15 18 16% 41% $1,161,763
Doug O’Neill 141 18 21 19 13% 41% $1,070,077
Vladimir Cerin 72 18 13 7 25% 53% $494,855
John Sadler 129 17 13 20 13% 39% $1,511,883
Mark Glatt 87 12 13 13 14% 44% $552,855
William E. Morey 39 11 3 11 28% 64% $460,883
Robert Hess, Jr. 72 10 10 7 14% 38% $329,241
Hector Palma 51 9 8 6 18% 45% $331,240
J. Keith Desormeaux 47 9 7 8 19% 51% $328,284
Mike Puype 60 9 6 8 15% 38% $434,936