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Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week: McKinzie Comes Back Strong

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

It was Pennsylvania Derby Day at Parx Racing last Saturday, and just like in recent years, it gave us a lot to talk about moving forward for a variety of reasons. There were major Breeders’ Cup implications involved in both the Pennsylvania Derby and the Cotillion Stakes, as well as a controversial stretch run in the latter. Let’s take a look at who made our Three Stars of the Week after the results were declared official:

1. McKinzie

There are lot of words that can be used to describe McKinzie, but his trainer, Bob Baffert, said it best after his big win in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby:

“He had been training really well,” Baffert said. “I always felt like he was the best 3-year-old and then he got hurt and Justify picked it up. He has come back with the time off and has responded really well. It was good to see him get back in the game. It was a pretty tall order to go 1 1/8 miles off that kind of layoff. But you can do it with good horses. I thought we had him pretty tight. I felt like he was the best horse. If you had asked me on January 1, I would have told you we were going to win the Kentucky Derby with that horse.”

The quotes “I always felt like he was the best 3-year-old” and “If you had asked me on January 1. I would have told you we were going to win the Kentucky Derby with that horse” are the two reasons why I remained extremely high on him despite his injury in March. He earned an eye-catching 107 Beyer speed figure for his victory, which puts him well within the realm of being highly competitive in the Breeders’ Cup Classic once November rolls around.

Co-owners Karl Watson (L) and Paul Weitman (R) hold up the Pennsylvania Derby Trophy with jockey Mike Smith after Smith guided McKinzie to victory in the Pennsylvania Derby (Credit: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

2. Midnight Bisou

Midnight Bisou finally “beat” Monomoy Girl last Saturday in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes, but she has still never actually finished ahead of her. After sitting mid-pack for most of the race, Midnight Bisou made a strong move on the turn and was quickly approaching her front-running foe as they straightened for the drive. At first, Monomoy Girl ducked to the inside, causing Midnight Bisou to shift outward. Then, Monomoy Girl began to drift significantly to the outside for several seconds, causing Midnight Bisou to also drift out into the middle of the track. Monomoy Girl prevailed by a neck, with Midnight Bisou slowly cutting into the lead before they hit the wire. After a lengthy objection, the stewards determined that Monomoy Girl had indeed prevented Midnight Bisou from getting by, which led to a disqualification. The win pushes Midnight Bisou to $1,385,000 in earnings and will likely lead to her getting a shot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to round out her 3-year-old campaign.

Midnight Bisou (L) battles to the wire with Monomoy Girl before winning through disqualification in the Cotillion Stakes (Credit: Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO)

3. Monomoy Girl

Even though she was disqualified from first in the Cotillion, she still deserves to be mentioned in the Three Stars of the Week. Plus, this gives me a chance to give my opinion on the call. While I cannot argue with the disqualification, I hold the opinion that Midnight Bisou would have likely never passed Monomoy Girl. However, the big problem was not only the significance of the drift out, but that the drift out seemed extremely prolonged. If a steward had deemed that the drifting, even though there was never any contact, caused Midnight Bisou not to get past, then there is really no way that I could change their minds. Thus, the call is one that I cannot argue, but also not the decision that I personally would have made. Putting the call aside, let’s give credit to Monomoy Girl, who has still not been passed in a race this season. Both she and Midnight Bisou will move to the Breeders’ Cup in fine form off of this effort.

Midnight Bisou (L) battles to the wire with Monomoy Girl before winning through disqualification in the Cotillion Stakes (Credit: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

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