By Margaret Ransom
With so many of trainer Bob Baffert’s stars headed to the breeding shed earlier than fans would probably like, it’s nice to see McKinzie stick around for a 5-year-old campaign.
Almost as soon as the $20 million purse for the Saudi Cup was announced, Baffert was indicating this son of Street Sense would make the trip to Riyadh in the Middle East for the inaugural running.
McKinzie will be making his first start since a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) nearly four months ago. After a brief winter freshening, he’s been training exceptionally well at Santa Anita. He’s clearly a good shipper, having won most of his top races on the road – the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga, the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx, the and Alysheba (G2) at Churchill Downs.
The one-turn nine furlongs should also be in his wheelhouse as he has been successful at distances between seven furlongs and 10 furlongs. And though racing in Saudi Arabia is race-day medication-free, meaning no Lasix, Baffert has some experience in the area having saddled three Dubai World Cup winners without the benefit of the diuretic — Silver Charm, Captain Steve and Arrogate.
McKinzie arrived in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 20 with the rest of the American contingent. After a 48-hour quarantine took his first steps over the King Abdulaziz Racecourse on Feb. 22.
“McKinzie looked pretty sharp today (Feb. 26),’’ Baffert said. “We stood him in the gate. The track surface is pretty nice.”
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Owners: Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman
Post position: No. 9
Career record: 14-7-6-0
Career earnings: $1,376,648
Pedigree: Street Sense—Runway Model, by Petionville
Running style: Frontrunner/Stalker
“Nine furlongs the favorite distance for Baffert’s Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up; must overcome seconditis.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Since losing big in the 2018 BC Classic, he has run eight times, including six Grade 1‘s, and has never been worse than second … Surface and distance a good fit here, and he should be included in all exacta wagers — at the very least.” – Noel Michaels
Notes: He was named for the much beloved racetrack executive Brad McKinzie, who passed away in 2017. Baffert considered McKinzie a brother … horse is a Grade 1 winner at age 2, 3 and 4 … Has never been worse than second in seven starts in 2019 and has finished off the board once, in the 2018 BC Classic at Churchill Downs … dam was a multiple Grade 2 winner, including the Alcibiades Stakes, and was a $2.6 million purchase through Keeneland’s sales ring in 2006 when in foal to the great Storm Cat and was pensioned from broodmare duty last year.