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Del Mar races set high standards for next year

DEL MAR — Five horses who won the Del Mar Futurity as 2-year-olds won the following year’s Kentucky Derby including 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. This year’s Del Mar Futurity, which was contested Sept. 4 on the final day of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s summer meet, was won by Bolt d’Oro.

“I don’t think that it could have went better,” said Mick Ruis, who is both the owner and the trainer of Bolt d’Oro.

Although Bolt d’Oro broke last among the nine horses in the seven-furlong race, he took the lead in the stretch and finished three-quarters of a length in front of second-place Zatter, who is trained by Bob Baffert.

“At the end we were drawing away from Bob’s horse,” Ruis said.

“I knew we could come off the pace,” Ruis said. “The horse has got some speed.”

Rios Canyon in Lakeside is named after Ruis’ great-grandfather Peter Rios, and Ruis grew up in the Rios Canyon area (near the former Marshall Scotty’s amusement park). Ruis, who is now 56, attended El Capitan High School and wrestled for the Vaqueros before making his fortune in the scaffolding business. Ruis currently lives in Arcadia and owns ranches in Descanso and in Bigfork, Montana.

Ruis, who brought 35 horses to the Del Mar meet, is the trainer of the horses he owns. “I like doing things my way,” he said.

Bolt d’Oro was foaled in Kentucky on March 17, 2015, and was sired by Medaglia d’Oro out of Globe Trot. In August 2016 Ruis purchased him at the Saratoga yearling sale for $630,000.

“I said I wanted a horse that looks like Arrogate,” Ruis said. “I want a long body, but I want balance.”

Bolt d’Oro first competed on Aug. 5 in a 6 1/2-furlong race at Del Mar. Bolt d’Oro and jockey Corey Nakatani won that race by 2 1/4 lengths.

“He shouldn’t have that kind of speed for that body,” Ruis said.

The first quarter-mile of this year’s Del Mar Futurity took leader Soul Streit 21.88 seconds to complete. Bolt d’Oro and Nakatani were in eighth place, 4 1/2 lengths behind. Half a mile into the race Bolt d’Oro was in seventh and 2 1/4 lengths behind Soul Streit, who was still in front.  Zatter had the lead entering the stretch while Bolt d’Oro was in second a length behind.

“He’s a very talented horse,” Nakatani said.

Bolt d’Oro had a winning time of 1:22.91.

“It’s super exciting for us,” Ruis said of the Del Mar Futurity win.

The Kentucky Derby won’t take place until May 5. The Breeders’ Cup will be held Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar, and Ruis is considering running Bolt d’Oro in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race.

“He could be right there with the other horses,” Ruis said. “This horse is only going to improve.”