If Bolt The Duer is to nail down the $500,000 final of Saturday's Delvin Miller Adios at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, he'll have to do it from the rail, a post position trainer Peter Foley didn't want.
"I don't like it at all,” Foley said. "It's tough to get away, especially on a five-eighths mile track. I expect to get away fourth. I don't know what we'll do after that.”
It wasn't so long ago, when half-mile tracks were dominant, that the rail was considered a major advantage. Now, with the popularity of larger tracks, more aggressive drives from the outside and slanted starting gates to facilitate those early brushes, the rail sometimes is seen as more liability than asset. At The Meadows this season, No. 1 is only the fifth-"winningest” post position (11.4 percent), well behind the leader, No. 5 (16.1 percent).
The rail has brought Bolt The Duer mostly frustration. In three recent important races — the Art Rooney, the Hempt final and his Adios elimination — he left from the rail, had the lead late and finished a close second.
"He's been nailed three times at the wire, all from the rail,” Foley said. "He's been unlucky so far, but it's all part of racing. You have to take the bad as well as the good.”
Bolt The Duer, who will be piloted by Mark McDonald, is horse enough to reverse his luck. Bred by Carter Duer's Peninsula Farm, he's by Ponder out of the Artsplace Mare Wonderbolt, making him a half-brother to millionaire Shanghai Lil. Of the five Adios contenders who sold at auction as yearlings, Bolt The Duer was the most expensive, bringing $70,000 from All Star Racing Inc.
"The mare is like a 100 percent producer,” Foley said, "but she died in foal to RockNRoll Hanover, so he's the last one out of the mare. He's been a perfect horse — he can leave and come home.”
Last year's Kentucky Sire Stakes champion who boasts $399,901 in career earnings, Bolt The Duer will take a few weeks off after the Adios before returning to Kentucky to defend his title. He's eligible for all the big late-season stakes, when Foley hopes "we'll still be standing.”
"He's a tough horse, but we haven't brought home the bacon yet,” Foley said. "Hopefully, our luck will change.” (The Meadows)