McKinzie; winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity and Sham S.
by Alastair Bull
McKinzie may be a little lucky to remain unbeaten after three starts, but there’s no doubt he’s a serious Kentucky Derby contender.
An impressive winner of his debut at Santa Anita Oct. 28, McKinzie was made favorite for the Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1) Nov. 9, ahead of his stablemate Solomini, the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Solomini was clearly the best at the end of a three-way stretch battle, finishing three-quarters of a length in front of McKinzie, who had a head to spare over Instilled Regard. But because Solomini bumped Instilled Regard hard enough to possibly stop him grabbing second, he was disqualified and placed third, with McKinzie a fortunate winner.
However, there was nothing fortunate about his victory in the Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 6, albeit in a weaker field. Racing without blinkers, he travelled three wide just off the pace before making his move on the final turn, and drawing away in the stretch to a comfortable victory.
Bred by Summer Wind Farm in Kentucky, McKinzie was a $170,000 purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale. He is raced by Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman, and trained by Bob Baffert.
McKinzie is by Street Sense (Street Cry), who clearly stayed 1 ¼ miles well enough to win the 2007 Kentucky Derby. He has proved to be a very good stallion, having sired more than 50 stakeswinners.
Street Sense’s American progeny doesn’t include many horses with winning form at 1 ¼ miles or beyond, though there aren’t as many top-level opportunities at those trips as there should be. Many have stayed 1 1/8 miles well, including the dual grade one-winning mare Wedding Toast, Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Unlimited Budget, and Skip Away Stakes (G3) winner Cigar Street.
However, in Australia, where he was a regular shuttler, he produced black-type winners that stayed up to 1 ½ miles on turf, notably the grade one winner Sense of Occasion.
McKinzie’s dam Runway Model (Petionville) was just below the best of her generation. She won the Alcibiades Stakes (G2) before finishing third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. The next season she finished second in the Ashland Stakes (G1) and sixth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). At stud she’s produced five winners to date, with the only other stakes performer being Rompin Reid, who finished third in The Vid Stakes, over 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park.
It’s a pedigree that suggests McKinzie is likely to have the stamina to run 1 ¼ miles if he makes it to the Kentucky Derby, but not definitively. His remaining lead-up starts will reveal more.
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