‘Remember McKinzie!’: Baffert Has Colt Ready For ‘Tall Order’ In Classic

by | 10.21.2018 | 4:17pm
McKinzie breezes at Santa Anita on Oct. 21

Bob Baffert's battle cry for the Breeders' Cup Classic won't be “Remember the Alamo!,” but it could be “Remember McKinzie!”

Seemingly the odd horse out although he is among the three favorites for the Classic to be run Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, McKinzie is the third choice behind John Sadler trainee Accelerate and Baffert's West Coast, each making Santa Anita their home base.

McKinzie worked six furlongs in company with Dabster Sunday morning in his penultimate breeze at Santa Anita before the $6 million, mile and a quarter Classic in Kentucky.

With Joe Talamo aboard, McKinzie went six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.20, while Dabster was clocked in 1:11.60.

Baffert also breezed West Coast, who went six furlongs in company with Roman Rosso, receiving respective times of 1:11.80 and 1:12.

“At the start of the year, McKinzie was one of my best horses, until Justify came along,” Baffert said after Sunday's early drill. “The Classic is a tall order for him because he's only had one prep coming off a layoff (winning the Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 22), but McKinzie will move up off that race.”

Prior to the Pennsylvania Derby, McKinzie had been sidelined some six months recovering from a “twisted hock” suffered last March.

“But one thing in his favor, even though the Classic is a mile and a quarter, I had a really good foundation into him,” Baffert said. “I think the horses to beat are all out here. Accelerate is the gold standard and West Coast got within two (lengths) of him off a real long layoff.”

West Coast, champion three-year-old male of 2017, was second by 2 ¼ lengths behind Accelerate in the Awesome Again Stakes on Sept. 29, his first race since last March 31 when he was second in the Dubai World Cup behind Horse of the Year Gun Runner.

Baffert has won the Breeders' Cup Classic three times, more than any other trainer in its 34 previous editions. All were consecutive, with Bayern (2014), American Pharoah (2015) and Arrogate (2016). The two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer also plans to enter 2017 Pacific Classic winner Collected in the Breeders' Cup Classic along with West Coast and McKinzie.

“Accelerate is the horse to beat,” Baffert conceded. “He's become so consistent and he likes to win.”

Other Breeders' Cup workers Sunday included Dirt Mile favorite Catalina Cruiser, seven furlongs in 1:27.60 for John Sadler, and Selcourt (Filly & Mare Sprint), six furlongs in 1:13.80, also for Sadler. Catalina Cruiser was given fractional times by Santa Anita clockers of 25.40, 37.60, 49.40, 1:01.80 and 1:14.

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