Watson, Weitman and Pegram’s McKinzie moved to the fore in early stretch and powered home a convincing 1 3/4-length winner of the $980,000 Whitney S. (G1) at Saratoga on Saturday. The sensational son of Street Sense earned an automatic berth to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) for his work after clocking nine furlongs in a brisk 1:47.10. The four-year-old colt earned a 109 BRIS Speed figure on Saturday and has been first or second in each of his five performances in 2019. Trained by Bob Baffert, McKinzie has always run well at Santa Anita, too, and he looms a menacing figure in the Classic if he retains his form. Multiple Grade 1 victor Yoshida was a smart second in the Whitney when rallying from last, finishing more than four lengths clear of his nearest foe under the wire. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry loves the Saratoga surface and could be pointed to a title defense in the upcoming Woodward S. (G1). Gold Cup S. (G1) victor Vino Rosso and Suburban S. (G2) hero Preservationist finished third and fourth, respectively, and they remain in the Classic hunt. Each will need to step up his game in a hurry, however. Two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Thunder Snow was scratched the morning of the race. Allied Racing Stable LLC’s Mr. Money is vaulting not only towards the top of the sophomore division, but also into a classic contender with his continued ascension. The Bret Calhoun pupil won his fourth Grade 3 contest in a row, and each one has been more impressive than the previous. In the West Virginia Derby (G3) on Saturday, the Goldencents colt took over readily prior to the turn for home and waltzed clear to a six-length romp under jockey Gabriel Saez. The three-year-old will need to get a bit faster and prove that he can run with open company, though. Here are my top six current Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders:

  1. McKinzie — Top-notch performer was visually dynamic on Saturday
  2. Thunder Snow — $16 million earner might benefit from skipping the Whitney
  3. Elate — Standout mare would be a worthy opponent for the boys
  4. Seeking the Soul — Grade 1 winner might be getting better with age
  5. Gunnevera — World Cup third gearing up for his return assignment
  6. Yoshida — Classy closer was coming late in the 2018 Classic
Photo of McKinzie capturing the Whitney, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (c) NYRA/Coglianese Photography/Chris Rahayel