Bolt d’Oro, who had been trained by owner Mick Ruis, was moved to Steve Asmussen’s stable from Ruis’ farm in Kentucky.
“He arrived this morning. If they told you [that] you were getting Bolt d’Oro, would you drag your feet?” asked Asmussen with a laugh. “He’s here. He’s a gorgeous horse. He looks great.”
Bolt d’Oro started his career 3 for 3 with wins in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on September 4 and the Grade 1 FrontRunner on September 30 at Santa Anita. He capped his 2-year-old campaign with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 4 at Del Mar and came back from a nearly four-month break to capture the Grade 2 San Felipe via the disqualification of McKinzie on March 10 at Santa Anita.
A second-place finish to eventual Triple Crown winner Justify in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7 was his last on-the-board finish, with the Medaglia d’Oro colt running 12th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs and 11th in the Grade 1 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, June 9.
Ruis said his packed schedule and Asmussen’s talents, which include saddling Horse of the Year winners Curlin, Rachel Alexandra and Gun Runner, made him a good fit to take over training responsibilities.
“I’m super busy with my company right now and the last six months of my life were only Bolt d’Oro and the Derby trail, so I just said the best thing for him is to have someone like Steve, who has had three Horses of the Year,” Ruis, who co-owns Bolt d’Oro with wife, Wendy, said by phone. “I told him, ‘This is what I know about him, this is what we’ve got out of him, Steve. He’s all yours.’
“He was real excited,” Ruis added. “He had been to my farm four times before he even left and I don’t think Bolt was even there a month. To have him go over there and have Steve be so excited about it, that was really exciting for myself and my wife.”
No Race Yet for Bolt
Asmussen did not say when Bolt d’Oro will run next.
“I’m leaving that up to Steve,” Ruis said. “Even though I trained him and had him since a yearling, broke him and all that, if I’m going to turn the reins over to a Hall of Fame trainer, I don’t think I want to give him any instructions.”
Ruis left open the possibility of Bolt d’Oro running as a 4-year-old, which will be predicated on his health, racing success and the opinion of B. Wayne Hughes, the owner of Spendthrift Farm, who has secured 50 percent of Bolt d’Oro’s breeding rights.
“Mr. Hughes knows how to make money, I know how to make money, in business and working, but there’s no thrill like having a horse at the caliber we think Bolt can be, just the memories he can bring us. That’s my hope,” Ruis said. “I’m under contract next year in January to retire him and I’m sticking with that, but I’m just hoping that Bolt can finish really good and maybe we could consider running him as a 4-year-old.”
Ruis also said that Union Strike, a Grade 1 winner, could make her Saratoga debut in the Grade 1, $500,000 Ketel One Ballerina on Travers Day, August 25. A Breeders’ Cup qualifier for the Filly & Mare Sprint in November at Churchill, the Ballerina will be contested at seven furlongs.
Union Strike, also owned and trained by Ruis, won the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante in September and has registered a couple of solid efforts in her 3-year-old season, finishing second in the Grade 2 Eight Belles on May 5 at Churchill and third in the Grade 3 Chicago Handicap on June 23 at Arlington in which winner Hotshot Anna set a track record with seven furlongs in 1:20.93.
“It was all speed up front and she was the only one closing, so that was an incredible race that she did for her first race in five months,” Ruis said. “When she last raced as a 3-year-old in the Acorn, she stumbled and lost part of her left front foot so it took all that time to get her back. I’m very patient with my horses since I own them, so we’re really looking forward to a nice race for Union Strike in the Ballerina.”
Midnight Bisou Headed to CCA Oaks
Another Grade 1 winner trained by Asmussen, Bloom Racing Stable, Madaket Stables and Allen Racing’s Midnight Bisou, will go up against Monomoy Girl for the first time since the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks in Sunday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at the Spa in a race that can potentially determine the leader in the 3-year-old filly division.
The 102nd running of the Coaching Club American Oaks, contested at 1 1/8 miles, will feature Midnight Bisou in her first start since winning the Grade 2 Mother Goose by six lengths on June 30 at Belmont.
Asmussen took over the training duties from Bill Spawr after the Midnight Lute filly ran third in the Kentucky Oaks on May 4 at Churchill, finishing behind Wonder Gadot and Monomoy Girl.
“She exudes confidence and I think that’s continued and we expect her to do well,” Asmussen said. “She’s well aware of who she is. The way she carries herself; everything about her is class.”
Heading into the Kentucky Oaks, Midnight Bisou won the Grade 2 Santa Ynez and the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel before winning the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks on April 7, with all three wins at Santa Anita.
In the Mother Goose, Midnight Bisou stayed near the pace before extending away in the stretch to defeat Road to Victory, the only horse to get the better of Monomoy Girl in her eight starts. Midnight Bisou’s win earned her a personal-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure.
“We’re well aware of how good the competition is, but hopefully the weather will be nice. We’d like it for it to be a nice day and not have an off track,” Asmussen said.
Asmussen said Tenfold, who ran fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes last out, is on target for the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 28.
Combatant, who was wide out of the first turn and never made a move in finishing 18th in the Kentucky Derby before running fifth in the Grade 3 Matt Winn last out on June 16 at Churchill, could be making a switch to grass.
Asmussen said the Scat Daddy colt could be entered in the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame at 1 1/16 miles on turf on August 3. Combatant put in his second straight work on Saratoga’s turf training track, breezing four furlongs in 49.71 seconds on Friday morning.