The FrontRunner Stakes (G1) often serves as the first major test in Southern California in determining whether a 2-year-old colt can handle a route of ground in hopes of progressing on to the Kentucky Derby (G1) the following year. The race also serves as a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Del Mar Futurity (G1) winner Bolt d’Oro, owned by Ruis Racing LLC and trained by Mick Ruis, has been made the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile event at Santa Anita Park. Always a well thought of colt since he was purchased for $630,000 at the Saratoga Sale last year, the son of Medaglia d’Oro went off as the 4-5 favorite in his Aug. 5 debut. He dueled for the lead early and kept on going late to win the 6 ½-furlong race by 2 ¼ lengths in a sharp final time of 1:17-4/5. He then came back a month later and rallied from near-last to win the Del Mar Futurity by three parts of a lengths over Zatter.
Zatter is also in this race as part of an uncoupled entry with Solomoni. Both colts are owned by Zayat Stables LLC and trained by Bob Baffert.
The former is a son of dual champion sprinter Midnight Lute and was purchased for $160,000 at the Keeneland September Sale last year. He came into his Aug. 20 debut off of a strong series of quick works and ran to them when out-dueling next-out winner St. Patrick’s Day, who happens to be a full brother to American Pharoah, in a swift time of 1:10-2/5 for six furlongs. On Saturday, he will be trying to turn the tables on Bolt d’Oro, who caught him late in the Del Mar Futurity.
Solomoni is a son of Curlin that was purchased for $270,000 at the same sale as Zatter last year. A little slower to come along than his stable mate, Solomoni did not debut until Sept. 2. The colt stalked the pace early in the 6 ½-furlong event and pounced late to win by 1 ¾ lengths, while looking very green. The race was run in an impressive final time of 1:16-4/5.
Stakes winner Encumbered will be running on dirt for the first time since his debut in the Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes in early July — a race in which he finished fourth. The Simon Callaghan-trained Reddam Racing LLC-owned son of Violence was then switched to turf where he won a one-mile event by ¾ lengths over My Boy Jack. Just over a month later, he returned to win the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes by a half-length over that same rival, again going one mile.
Rounding out the leading contenders is another son of freshman sire Violence, Ayacara. Ayacara is owned by Cynthia and Charles Marquis and trained by Keith Desormeaux. The colt debuted going six furlongs on July 29, finishing a well beaten fourth behind the very well-regarded Tatters to Riches. He returned a month later going two-turns for the first time, a distance that proved to his liking when he split horses at the top of the stretch and fought on gamely to win by a neck. With his breeding, there is a chance that his future could come on turf, but for now he’ll stick with dirt.
Completing the field is the Cal-Bred stakes winner Continental Divide, maiden special weight winners Take the One O One and City Plan and maiden claiming winner Texas Wedge.
Carded as the eighth race on the program, approximate post time for the $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes is 4:03 pm PT.