CYPRESS, CA – While few were surprised that trainer Bob Baffert won his fourth straight Grade 1, $300,000 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity Stakes on Saturday with the heavily-favored McKinzie, the way in which he did it was a surprise.
Breaking from the outside in post 5 under Mike Smith, McKinzie was forced to run through the first turn four-wide while For Him and Runaway Ghost took turns setting opening times of :23.71 and :46.70. Racing three-wide around the lead pair into the far turn, McKinzie hit the top of the stretch heads apart from Runaway Ghost and Instilled Regard. Down the stretch, McKinzie’s stablemate, Solomini, turned on the jets and rallied along the outside of Instilled Regard and McKinzie, crossing first by 3/4 of a length under jockey Flavien Prat in a final time of 1:42.57. However, following the finish a steward’s inquiry ultimately ruled that Solomini had made enough contact in the stretch run to warrant disqualifying Solomini behind Instilled Regard, who had crossed a head behind McKinzie in third.
Solomini (outside) bumps into Instilled Regard (middle) down the stretch
As a result of the disqualification, McKinzie was awarded the victory, but the decision left many in the racing world puzzled, to say the least.
“I didn’t think there was going to be a change,” Baffert said. (McKinzie) had a rough trip around the first turn and he got a little tired at the end. It’s a long stretch and he hooked up with (Instilled Regard) early. Prat rode a great race just sitting behind them. Unfortunately, (Solomini) will lay on horses in the lane, and you have to be careful with him. Prat might have gotten a little over aggressive. It’s really too bad they took him down. He was the better horse today.’’
No matter the order of finish, the lead trio appeared much better than the two early pacesetters: For Him finished 29 1/2 lengths back in fourth, with Runaway Ghost another 5 3/4 behind in fifth.
The Los Alamitos Futurity is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep race season. McKinzie earned 10 points for the win, with Instilled Regard receiving 4 for second, Solomini 2 for third, and For Him 1 for fourth.
McKinzie is named for the late Brad McKinzie, Baffert’s close friend and a long-time Los Alamitos executive who passed away on August 6. The win was the colt’s second in as many starts after breaking his maiden on October 28 at Santa Anita. The son of Street Sense is owned by Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram, and Paul Weitman and now has earnings of $210,000 after being purchased for $170,000 as a yearling.
McKinzie returned $3 to win and $2.40 to place, while Instilled Regard paid $6.80 to place. There was no show betting.