Bolt d'Oro finishes 2022 as leading first-crop sire, Instant Coffee one to watch

January 16th, 2023 is following prominent first-crop sires whose two-year-olds are hitting the track this season. Winners for Bolt d’Oro have also been profiled in three previous articles.

Former graded-stakes winner Bolt d’Oro closed out 2022 atop the first-crop sire rankings based on progeny earnings, with 29 winners from 80 runners, including six stakes winners and three of the graded stakes kind. His $2,748,980 in earnings by offspring was more than $200,000 of that generated by second-place finisher Good Magic and nearly $400,000 more than Triple Crown winner Justify, who ended up third in the standings.

Three-year-old Instant Coffee was responsible for $322,815 of the total produced by Bolt d’Oro, a son of multiple graded stakes champ Medaglia d’Oro. The dark bay colt out of an Uncle Mo mare earned two wins from three starts in 2022 and collected 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby (G1) when winning the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26. He also earned two points from a fourth in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in October.

Fifth on the current Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, Instant Coffee is one to watch during the 2023 season and could potentially find himself among the field of 20 in this year’s edition of the Run for the Roses.

Below we further explore the performance of Instant Coffee during his two-year-old campaign and examine other successful Bolt d’Oro runners who achieved considerable success in 2022 and may be primed for a step forward in 2023.

Instant Coffee a Brad Cox hopeful for 2023 Kentucky Derby

A debut winner in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Saratoga on Sept. 3, Instant Coffee immediately jumped up to graded stakes company, competing in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 8 at Keeneland.

The promising Bolt d'Oro baby finished about seven lengths behind Todd Pletcher pupil Forte, the current leader on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with 40 points. A neck behind Forte was another Cox trainee, Loggins (by Ghostzapper), who earned four points with his second-place finish in the Derby prep.

Following Loggins, 6 3/4 lengths back in third and a head in front of Instant Coffee, was Red Route One, a Gun Runner colt trained by Steve Asmussen who proceeded to finish fifth in the Street Sense S. (G3) and fourth to Instant Coffee in the Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 26.

In the Churchill Downs prep, Instant Coffee was unhurried early, then got up in the final sixteenth to win going away against a field of nine. Ranked second on the current Derby leaderboard, Curly Jack placed second to Instant Coffee by 1 1/4 lengths and beat the Kenny McPeek-trained Hayes Strike by a head.

In the last week of December, Cox said he was aiming Instant Coffee to the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 21. Since Instant Coffee's conquest in the Kentucky Jockey Club, he has posted five workouts at Fair Grounds, most recently breezing five furlongs in 1:01.60 on Jan. 15.

In addition to Instant Coffee, Cox conditions another burgeoning Bolt d'Oro colt in Corona Bolt, owned by Stonestreet Stables. The unbeaten three-year-old recently wired the six-furlong Sugar Bowl S., dominating by 6 3/4 lengths at Fair Grounds in his second career start, and is likely to enter the 1 1/16-mile Southwest S. (G3) at Oaklawn Jan. 28.

The Derby prep will award points to the first five finishers on a scale of 20-8-6-4-2.

Prior to his first stakes win, Corona Bolt won by a length in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Nov. 19. The Florida-bred brought the gavel down at $225,000 as a weanling at Keeneland November and has earned $102,000 as of Jan. 16.

A bit lower on the radar, another Lecomte hopeful by Bolt d'Oro is Itzos, from the barn of Paulo Lobo. Out of graded stakes-placed mare Lotta Kim by Grade 2 winner Roar, Itzos got off to a rough start when debuting in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs on Nov. 26. Coming home ninth among a field of 12, he set the pace to near the stretch but tired, ultimately finishing 14 1/2 lengths behind winner Gun Pilot.

He then shipped to Turfway, where he tracked the pace, rallied in the stretch run, and cleared late to triumph by 1 1/2 lengths in a 6 1/2-furlong maiden special weight held on Turfway's all-weather track.

Itzos drew post 6 in Saturday's 1 1/16-mile Lecomte, while Instant Coffee will break from post 7 among a likely field of eight.

Major Dude comes up short in Dania Beach

The second-leading performer to date for Bolt d'Oro is Major Dude, winner of the Pilgrim (G2) on Oct. 2 at Belmont at the Big A. Out of a Distorted Humor mare, the Todd Pletcher trainee broke his maiden on debut at Monmouth, romping to a 3 3/4-length victory in a five-furlong maiden special weight. He then finished sixth to upset winner Mo Strike in the Sanford S. (G3) and third to stablemate Lost Ark in the Sapling S. in August.

His score in the Pilgrim earned Major Dude a spot in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), where he came home ninth of 14 but was beaten by less than four lengths by European shipper Victoria Road.

Most recently, Major Dude appeared in the Dania Beach S., a one-mile turf event at Gulfstream Park, and finished 1 3/4 lengths in second as the even-money favorite to the Exaggerator colt Candidate.

Bolt d'Oro's only other graded stakes champ thus far is Boppy O, a surprise 23-1 winner of the 1 1/16-mile With Anticipation S. (G3) at Saratoga last August. The first graded winner for Bolt d'Oro, Boppy O has since finished 5 1/2 lengths in sixth to Andthewinneris in the Bourbon S. (G2), then disappointed when ninth of 10 in the Street Sense S. at Churchill in late October.

Among Bolt d'Oro's black-type stakes winners, Mounsieur Coco earned a victory in the 5 1/2-furlong Proud Man S. at Gulfstream back in August, while It's Bobs Business romped to a 7 1/4-length win in the six-furlong Northern Lights Futurity at Canterbury Park in September.

Bolt d'Oro also produced four graded stakes-placed offspring: From Dusk, second in the Grade 2 Keio Hai Nisai S. in Japan; Agency, second in the Best Pal (G3) at Del Mar; Bolt's Broad, third in the Surfer Girl (G3) at Santa Anita; and Bold Discovery, third in the Killavullan S. (G3) at Leopardstown in Ireland.

Owen's Leap and fillies Lindalovesgold and Recognize also placed in non-graded stakes in 2022.