After some strangely bad performances in 2016, Golden Pegasus Racing and Earle Mack's Bolo needed throat surgery to repair a breathing issue.
In his first race since July, Bolo was 2 1/2 lengths off leaders What a View and Conquest Enforcer with a furlong to run, but closed rapidly on the outside and just got a head in front at the wire to win the Arcadia for the second year in a row. He returned from an almost identical layoff to win last year's Arcadia.
"I can't really find the words to describe it, to be honest," said winning trainer Carla Gaines. "To me, I was really excited to get him back to a race, but there were some things against him. He missed some training (because of rain) and he's such a big horse, so it's a task to get him ready, but he's just a sensational athlete."
What a View came in second, three-quarters of a length clear of co-favorites Conquest Enforcer and Ring Weekend, who were just a nose apart in third and fourth.
"I had a bit of trouble, (but) he's so strong—it's like pulling on the barn," jockey Mike Smith said of Bolo's trip in the first turn of the mile turf test, where he had to steady the son of Temple City . "If you give him daylight, he'll just run off with me, which he's done before."
Grade 1 winner What a View had a clear lead with fractions of :23.74, :46.92, and 1:10.98 through six furlongs, but was challenged early in the stretch by Conquest Enforcer and dug in on the inside. Bolo's outside rally to the wire finished off the mile in 1:34.51 on a turf course rated good.
"I thought I had it once I fought off Conquest Enforcer, which I thought was the horse to beat," said What a View's jockey, Tyler Baze. "He came head-to-head with my horse and my horse dug in hard. Especially that last sixteenth of a mile, I thought, 'Good. We're home free.' Then Bolo—it's frustrating."
Bolo, who was bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm, out of the Chief Seattle mare Aspen Mountain, now has a 5-1-2 record from 13 starts, with earnings of $614,045.
"He's something else, this horse," said Keith Brackpool, representing Bolo's co-owner, Golden Pegasus Racing. "Carla and I were saying, 'get third, get third,' then 'get second, get second.' I didn't think we had won until I saw the replay."