McKinzie was favored at 1-5 to keep his mark perfect on Saturday in the $100,345 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park, and the Street Sense colt did just that when recording an easy 3 1/2-length victory in his sophomore bow.
The one-mile contest was the first points race in 2018 on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and awarded McKinzie with 10 points toward a starting berth in the May 5 event. That elevated him from 10th on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard to second overall with 20 points.
The Bob Baffert trainee broke on top, but jockey Mike Smith allowed McKinzie to settle in a stalking spot outside of the field as All Out Blitz led the way through the opening six furlongs in :23.69, :47.73 and 1:12.17. Shivermetimbers, the 9-2 second choice, kept pressure on the pacesetter while My Boy Jack tracked just to that one’s inside.
Nearing the final turn, Smith urged McKinzie to make his move and the bay swept forward to take command upon hitting the lane. He easily extended his margin from there to stop the clock in 1:36.58 over the fast main track.
All Out Blitz proved best of the rest by four lengths to take home four points for the Kentucky Derby and debut in 17th on the Leaderboard. My Boy Jack just got third by a neck over Shivermetimbers, good for two Kentucky Derby points, while the latter runner was awarded one point. They also made their bows on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. City Plan and Here is Happy completed the order of finish.
Mourinho, another Baffert trainee, was scratched from the Sham in favor of the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on January 15.
Campaigned by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, McKinzie boasts a three-for-three mark and $270,000 in lifetime earnings. After breaking his maiden by 5 1/2 lengths on October 28 at Santa Anita, the Kentucky-bred shipped to Los Alamitos to finish second behind stablemate Solomini in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) on December 9.
However, Solomini was disqualified from that score and placed third, which elevated McKinzie to first and allowed him to keep an unblemished line.
Bred by Summer Wind Farm, McKinzie is out of the dual Grade 2-winning Petionville mare Runway Model, who ran third in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and has also produced stakes-placed Rompin Reid. Runway Model is a half-sister to multiple Grade 2-placed stakes winner Mambo Train as well as the dams of Grade 3 scorers Saham, Lucky Player and Southern Honey.
Mike Smith, jockey McKinzie, winner
“He was a bit too aggressive last time. 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.
“He’s getting better as he matures. 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.
“I smooched to him just to keep him interested but going past the wire he was well within himself and galloped out nicely.”
Bob Baffert, trainer McKinzie, winner
“He just broke, got in a good position, didn’t get rank with the blinkers off. He was good, and when horses come to him, he really gets into the bridle. He got a lot out of this. Last time, he got a little tired at the end. It just goes to show you the Los Alamitos Futurity was a good race. They were good horses.
“He came back to run like we hoped. I was happy. Everything went smooth; that’s what you want. I don’t have to work him that much before the next one. I don’t know (which race it will be). It could be the San Felipe (Grade II, $400,000, 1 1/16 miles March 10). We’ll try and get two (races) into him. I think he showed more maturity today. We sort of had had to rush into his earlier races.
“If he’d have relaxed in the Los Al Futurity…he got a little rank but he got a lot out of it. He was really tired that day, but he came back and worked extremely well for this race. I told (part owner) Mike Pegram I wanted to run him again and get a two-turn race into him. Everybody thought he was supposed to win easy or whatever at Los Al. The track’s been good here and I think he was more manageable without the blinkers.”
Karl Watson, co-owner McKinzie, winner
“It’s really nice to see a horse you name after someone so important to you turn out to be such a nice horse, it’s great.
“Bob picked the right one to name him after, that’s for sure.
“I was pleased with today; I can’t say I was surprised because we all have a lot of anticipation, expectations for today. Bobby likes the horse and he’s a good horse, so we were hopeful and we’re very pleased.
“I’ll leave it up to the chef to decide what’s next.”
Tyler Baze, jockey All Out Blitz, second
“He ran good. It was his first time going long today and we got beat by a race horse. I ran second to the winner on another horse here in October (28) and I knew then he (McKinzie) was a really talented colt. My horse is going to improve. He’ll relax better next time and I think he’s gonna be a real nice horse.”