01/05/2018 12:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Bolt d'Oro

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From the auction ring in Saratoga to the farm in Montana to the racetracks in Southern California, Bolt d’Oro rarely failed to impress in 2017.

He won 3 of 4 starts, including Grade 1 victories in the Del Mar Futurity and FrontRunner Stakes, with his one hiccup a third-place finish as the favorite in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar. For his achievements, Bolt d’Oro was voted a finalist for the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male.

Bolt d’Oro, a son of Medaglia d’Oro out of the A.P. Indy mare Globe Trot, was purchased for $630,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga select sale in August 2016. He was bought by owner-trainer Mick Ruis, who attended that sale with Ike Green, a farm manager at Ruis’s ranch in Montana. It was at that farm where Green taught Bolt d’Oro how to become a racehorse. Bolt d’Oro learned his lessons well.

“Ike said it’s the best horse he’s ever been on,” Ruis said. “He’s a cowboy – cowboys don’t brag – and he said ‘I’ve never been on something like this.’ ” Ruis said.

When Bolt d’Oro came to Ruis in Southern California in spring 2017, his exercise riders told Ruis the horse moved so fluidly that “you don’t even know how fast you’re going,” Ruis said.

Bolt d’Oro went fast enough to win his debut Aug. 5 at Del Mar, defeating nine opponents in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden race by 2 1/4 lengths. He came back a month later to win the Del Mar Futurity by three-quarters of a length.

Twenty-six days after that race, Bolt d’Oro dazzled another Grade 1 field, romping to a 7 3/4-length victory in the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. Ruis said he didn’t feel he had Bolt d’Oro all the way cranked for that race, knowing he wanted to save something for the Breeders’ Cup.

Bolt d’Oro was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the Juvenile. He broke from post 11 of 12 in the race and had a wide trip throughout under jockey Corey Nakatani. Though the outside paths were deemed better than the inside that day, Bolt d’Oro lost too much ground and finished third, beaten 5 1/4 lengths by Good Magic.

“I’m not taking anything away from [Good Magic], that horse was the winner, but I was proud of what Bolt did,” Ruis said the day after the race. “He was coming towards the end, but with that short stretch at Del Mar it’s pretty hard to overcome what he went through in the beginning.”

Bolt d’Oro is trying to become the fourth horse to lose the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and still be voted champion. Lookin At Lucky (2009), Dehere (1993), and Easy Goer (1988) are the others.

Bolt d’Oro is scheduled to take the Southern California route to the Kentucky Derby. He suffered a pulled muscle in late December that interrupted his training schedule and likely will delay his return to the races until March.