Santa Anita was the place to be all week long! Wednesday was opening day at The Great Race Place, which featured two Grade 1 events, including the ever-popular Malibu Stakes for the colts and the La Brea Stakes for the fillies. Saturday featured the Grade 1 American Oaks as well, which gave us plenty to talk about once all the dust had settled. Let’s check out who made our Three Stars of the Week:
This was the McKinzie that we expected to see in Kentucky, when he lined up in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. He was terrible that day; however, he took a giant step forward in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes with a 4 3/4-length runaway victory. After breaking slow, the 6/5 morning line favorite made his backers a bit nervous as he trailed most of the field up the backstretch. At the top of the stretch, though, he had made up position, then ran widest of all before turning it on late to crush his rivals under a hand ride. There is no question that this win will springboard him back into the major races in 2019, with the Pegasus World Cup or the Dubai World Cup as his next likely target.
2. Gift Box
Apparently, this horse loves the new scenery out in California. After some mild success with trainer Chad Brown on the east coast, Gift Box took his game to another level in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes for new trainer John Sadler, defeating favorite Battle of Midway late in the stretch by a 1/2-length. Gift Box was able to sit in behind the leaders early in the race before tipping out in the stretch and wearing down the previously-mentioned foe and the Bob Baffert-trained Dabster. The win is the biggest of his career and certainly sets him up for some big 2019 west coast races. Expect him to target many of the same races that Accelerate did last season.
It’s good to be Chad Brown; he has figured out how to ship turf horses to the west coast and dominate. His latest example is his 3-year-old filly Competitionofideas, who powered home to win Saturday’s Grade 1 American Oaks by 2 3/4 lengths. She dropped to the far back of the field early on before kicking it into high gear down the stretch with an ultra-impressive move. The filly also earned another Southern California victory for jockey Joel Rosario, who has moved back to the state full-time. As for Competitionofideas, Chad Brown said that the filly will get some time off before most likely targeting races on the east coast during the summer.