ARCADIA, CA – McKinzie made it look easy in Wednesday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita. This was the third career Grade 1 win for the three-year-old son of Street Sense who looks poised to have an impressive four-year-old campaign.
Calexman shot straight to the front for the early lead and was joined by a pack of horses including Nero, Ax Man, Still Having Fun, and Greyvitos. The 6-5 post-time favorite, McKinzie, sat near the back of the pack after stumbling slightly as the broke from the gate. Calexman maintained his early lead and set fractions of :22.30, :44.92, and 1:09.97. As they rounded the turn, jockey Mike Smith let McKinzie loose and he quickly gain on the frontrunning Calexman as he passed horses four-wide around the turn and went from 8th to 2nd by the top of the stretch. As soon as McKinzie hit the top of the stretch, he flew to the front and cruised to an easy 4 3/4 length victory. Identity Politics did well to get up for second and Still Having Fun held on for third with a ride along the rail. Axelrod finished fourth.
“This horse really has something in store,” said jockey Mike Smith. “You’re really better off running him like this because you don’t take too much out of yourself. Bob brought him back here, gave him a little break and his energy came back up, his weight came back up, and he was ready to run today.”
“The good ones show up and he showed up,” said trainer Bob Baffert. “Down the backside, he was way back there and I thought, ‘Well, I hope they’re going really, really fast.’ When he came into the picture, that was a good sign because it’s going to be a longer day than I really thought.”
In his last start, McKinzie finished a disappointing 12th in the G1 Breeder’s Cup Classic.
“We left Louisville disappointed and today, the only thing I’m disappointed in is the price,” said owner Mike Pegram. “It did my heart good to see this horse get lucky today.”
McKinzie returned $4.40 to win, $3.60 to place, and $3.40 to show. Identity Politics brought back $10.00 to place and $8.60 to show, while Still Having Fun paid $10.40 to show. Santa Anita’s new Roulette wager paid $3.60.
Scratched: Cool Bobby (AE), Super Sol (AE)