June 7, 2023

McKinzie looms large in Big ‘Cap

McKinzie and jockey Mike Smith win the Malibu Stakes (G1) on December 26, 2018, at Santa Anita Park © BENOIT PHOTO

by John Mucciolo

Five graded races, including three of the Grade 1 variety, will lead a fine 11-race card at Santa Anita Park on Saturday. Among the features is the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap (G1), where six will go postward in the 10-furlong test.

Morning-line choice McKinzie drew the rail and will be formidable for conditioner Bob Baffert. The four-year-old son of Street Sense had an excellent sophomore campaign, which included Grade 1 victories in the Malibu Stakes (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

The Kentucky-bred bay checked in second when making his three-year-old debut in the San Pasqual Stakes (G2) on February 2, and he comes in fresh for his first assignment at 1 1/4 miles. McKinzie has trained quite well leading up to the Big ‘Cap and will once again unite with Mike Smith, the lone jockey to ever have ridden the four-year old.

Gift Box looks like the main danger to the favorite for trainer John Sadler. The gray son of Twirling Candy debuted for his new outfit in December off a nine-month layoff and finished a half-length best in the San Antonio Stakes (G2).

The six-year-old Kentucky-bred is adept at running from on or off the early tempo, and he will have Joel Rosario in the silks for the second consecutive time.

Prime Attraction has faced graded foes in his last 11 endeavors and is in with a winning chance. The James Cassidy pupil was last seen leading turning for home prior to finishing fourth in the Clark Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs.

The son of Unbridled’s Song was no factor in this event in 2018 but figures to put forth a much better showing off the shelf on Saturday. Kent Desormeaux will be in the silks atop the six-year-old.

Woodford Racing’s Campaign put in a strong late rally in a local allowance win on this track most recently. The four-year-old son of Curlin draws widest of the cast in hopes of bagging his initial stakes win. Rafael Bejarano rides the Sadler trainee.

Cassidy’s Prince of Arabia is winless since March 2018 but has earned some of his best results at Santa Anita. The dark bay was second in the Californian Stakes (G2) last campaign.

Mongolian Groom comes off a career-best when beating first-level allowance foes last out. The Hightail gelding will be making his stakes debut on the hefty class hike.