LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ike Green doesn’t mince words when asked about Bolt d’Oro, the Kentucky-bred, Montana-trained thoroughbred listed among the favorites for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Green, who trained the horse in Bigfork for about five months in 2016 and into early 2017, has long-expected Bolt d’Oro to run in the Derby.
“We had pretty high expectations for him from the start,” Green told MTN Sports in a phone interview on Friday. “I think he’s fulfilled that.”
“I watched the Derby horses train (Thursday),” Green added. “I think he’ll probably win.”
While Montana has an old history with the Derby, it doesn’t have a long one. Just one Montana horse has won the hallowed race with Spokane, who was born in Twin Bridges, winning the 1889 Derby.
Montana has had brushes with the Derby since — Billings-owned Frac Daddy finished 16th in the 2013 Derby, but that horse never stepped foot in Montana. Bolt d’Oro lived and trained on the Ruis Ranch just outside of Bigfork in the Jewel Basin. Mick Ruis purchased Bolt d’Oro after Green selected what he thought was “the best athlete at that sale.”
From there, Bolt d’Oro came straight to Montana to train in the shadows of the Swan Range in northwest Montana.
“I think it’s just a really good place to race horses,” said Green, a 1997 of Kalispell’s Flathead High School. “We have good, fertile soil and really good grass. The elements and everything are really good for their feet and stuff. … It’s just a good spot to race horses.”
Bolt d’Oro worked out with Green in Bigfork from August 2016 until January of 2017 when he moved to the track. He instantly found success, winning his first three races, according to www.horseracingnation.com. He finished third in the Breeders Cup Juvenile last November to cap his 2-year-old season.
Now as a 3-year-old, Bolt d’Oro has raced twice, winning once and then finishing second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby on April 7. Justify is the favorite at the Kentucky Derby, running out of Post 7 with 3:1 odds.
Bolt d’Oro will run out of Post 11 with 8:1 odds.
“I think it’s pretty big,” Green said. “They had a Montana-bred win the Derby once, 100-something years ago. Everybody I see in (Bigfork) around there is pretty excited about Bolt d’Oro.”
Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is slated to start at 4:46 p.m. (MT) on NBC.
Mendelssohn (Post 14, 5:1 odds), Magnum Moon (Post 16, 6:1 odds) and Audible (Post 5, 8:1 odds) are also among the favorites.