There are many reasons for a horse to run in particular races, especially on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but the decision to run Bond Holder in the March 8 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) certainly is a new one. Last year’s FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) winner is running at Tampa Bay Downs, simply put, because he can’t leave Florida.
Problems started for the son of Mineshaft on his flight from California to New Orleans for the Feb. 22 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), when he was slightly injured after being severely jarred by turbulence. After he arrived at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, he was scratched from the Risen Star due to his injuries.
It was decided to fly the colt back home with a stop in Miami, but the original flight had taken a severe toll on him mentally and he was unable to continue on.
“Bond Holder couldn't handle flying after being traumatized on the way to Fair Grounds,” owner Paul Reddam said. “His plane was to go to Miami and then California, but they had to take him off in Miami, as he was freaking out. The situation was dangerous for him and his handler. He is going ship over to Tampa and tentatively run in the Tampa Bay Derby. It’s not a conventional route to be sure, but points are points.”
Bond Holder currently has 11 points on the road to the Kentucky Derby, and ranks 12th on the leaderboard. Trained by Doug O'Neill, he has as much bottom under him as any 3-year-old in the country, having already run seven times last year. He followed up his FrontRunner score with fourth-place finishes in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and CashCall Futurity (gr. I).
The FrontRunner also was his maiden victory. In his previous start he had run second to eventual Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day , who has since been retired. Finishing fourth in that maiden race was Candy Boy, recent winner of the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II).