02/13/2016 5:30PM

Bolo fires fresh in Arcadia Stakes

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Benoit & Associates
Bolo, making his first start in seven months, gets up by a neck under Flavien Prat in the Arcadia.

ARCADIA, Calif. -  Bolo returned to racing following a layoff of more than seven months to win his first graded stakes with a thrilling rally in Saturday’s $200,000 Arcadia Stakes at Santa Anita.

The win made him a leading contender for the $400,000 Frank Kilroe Mile on turf on March 12, or a potential starter in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on dirt the same day.

In the minutes after the Grade 2 Arcadia Stakes, track chairman Keith Brackpool, part of the partnership that owns Bolo, and trainer Carla Gaines deferred that decision, but both races will be considered options.

Bolo ($17.40) had an ideal trip in the Arcadia Stakes on turf. Ridden by Flavien Prat, Bolo stalked pacesetter Obviously, who set quick fractions of 22.70 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.67 for the first half-mile.

Bolo trailed by 1 1/2 lengths on the backstretch and by two lengths with a furlong to go. He closed steadily on the outside of Obviously to reach the front in the final strides, winning by a neck.

“We had a good race,” Prat said. “The pace was good for us. You have to be close on this track now.”

Bolo was timed in a quick 1:33.09 on a turf course that has not produced fast times since the meeting began on Dec. 26.

Obviously was favored on the basis of his reputation as a leading turf miler in Southern California. He was beaten in his previous start when second by a neck to Flamboyant in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes on Jan. 2.

“Both horses ran huge,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains Obviously. “We just got nipped at the end.”

Om, a three-time stakes winner against 3-year-olds in the final four months of 2015, had his first start against older horses in the San Gabriel. He was third for the first half-mile and as close as 2 1/2 lengths from the front with a quarter-mile remaining. Om was unable to sustain the rally and faded to lose by three lengths.

“I thought he would be closer without trying,” said Dan Hendricks, who trains Om. “I didn’t think Bolo would show that speed. That was a fast time.”

Bolo, a 4-year-old colt by Temple City, has won 4 of 9 starts and earned $408,700. Co-owned by Earle Mack and Golden Pegasus Racing, Bolo was third behind Dortmund in the Santa Anita Derby last April and 12th in the Kentucky Derby behind American Pharoah.

Switched to turf, Bolo won an allowance race here last May, but was last of nine in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby in July. Bolo was vanned off following that race, but Gaines insisted he was not injured. Bolo was in training at Del Mar last August when he was taken out of training because of a sore shin, Gaines said.

“To run that well in a seven-month comeback is exceptional,” Brackpool said.

Gaines was left delighted by the Arcadia result. She said on Thursday that Bolo was showing signs of maturity in recent training, but was concerned how he would run against established turf milers such as Om and Obviously.

 “I thought the distance might be a bit short with those horses,” Gaines said.

Bolo proved capable of winning the Arcadia, leaving Gaines and Brackpool to ponder a race decision for next month.