With four Kentucky Derby winners, Bob Baffert is tied for second by wins in the 143-year history of the storied race. The Hall of Fame conditioner likes the use the $300,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) as a prep, winning the Road to the Kentucky Derby series qualifier a record nine times, and he’s got an excellent chance to make it 10 on Saturday with McKinzie and Solomini headlining a short field.
A total of 17 points (10-4-2-1 scale) will be offered toward a berth in a 20-horse Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Only five runners will line up for the 1 1/16-mile Futurity, which was moved to Los Alamitos in 2014 after Hollywood Park closed, and Solomini brings the best credentials, finishing second in the FrontRuner (G1) and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) after winning his career debut at Del Mar.
By Curlin, Solomini possesses good tactical speed and the Zayat Stables colorbearer will retain the services of Flavien Prat.
McKinzie generated excitement breaking his maiden at first asking by a 5 1/2-length margin at Santa Anita October 28, registering a 100 BRIS Speed rating that equals the number earned by Solomini in the Breeders’ Cup, and wound up being bet down as 12-1 third choice among individual interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, with only proven rivals Bolt d’Oro (7-1) and Good Magic (11-1) taking more action.
The Street Sense colt keeps “Big Money” Mike Smith in the saddle for his two-turn debut.
Instilled Regard is the main challenger against the Baffert duo. A $1.05 million 2-year-old in training purchase earlier this year, the son of Arch needed three starts before stylishly graduating on the stretch out for Jerry Hollendorfer, striding away to a 4 ¼-length decision in a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Santa Anita on October 29. Drayden Van Dyke takes over the reins aboard the front-running colt.
Runaway Ghost switches back to dirt after capturing the November 11 Golden Nugget on the synthetic track at Golden Gate Fields and Joe Talamo guides the Michael Machowsky trainee. For Him, a maiden claiming winner two starts back, looks like an extreme outsider following a weakening fourth in the grassy Zuma Beach last out.