ARCADIA, CA – Trainer Bob Baffert’s McKinzie left no doubt about who deserved to win this time, clearing away under a hand ride to win Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita.
Off well under Mike Smith, McKinzie settled in mid-pack and stalked All Out Blitz through initial fractions of :23.69, :47.73, and 1:12.17. Bidding outside the leader through the far turn, McKinzie took command shortly after straightening for home. Swishing his tail several times down the stretch, McKinzie seemed to enjoy winning as much as the bettors who made him the heavy 1-5 favorite. The son of Street Sense, off blinkers for the first time, crossed by 3 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:36.58 for the mile-long main track event.
“He was a bit too aggressive last time,” Smith said. Today, he seemed to relax early, then he jumped when I asked, so taking the blinkers off today, I thought we might as well try it and I think it was a great move.”
All Out Blitz couldn’t keep up with the winner but held well-clear for second. My Boy Jack, a stakes winner on turf trying his chances on dirt, necked out third over Shivermetimbers, while City Plan and Here Is Happy completed the order of finish. McKinzie’s stablemate, Mourinho, was scratched with plans to run in next week’s Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn.
The Sham is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep race season. McKinzie earned 10 points for the win, with All Out Blitz receiving 4 for second, My Boy Jack 2 for third, and Shivermetimbers 1 for fourth.
McKinzie, the controversial winner of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity last out, kept his record spotless in three starts while increasing his career earnings to $270,000. Owned by Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram, and Paul Weitman, the bay colt currently sits second in the Kentucky Derby points standings, with 20 accumulated thus far, and will most likely make one final pre-Derby start in the Santa Anita Derby.
“He’s getting better as he matures,” Smith said. “He ran a tremendous race in only his second time out last time at Los Al. The horses he ran with that day were top horses and we thought he’d move forward off of that race and he did today.”
McKinzie returned $2.40 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. All Out Blitz brought back $7.20 to place and $3.80 to show, while My Boy Jack paid $2.80 to show.