Mckinzie was the horse to watch at the Breeders’ Cup Classic heading into the prestigious event at the Churchill Downs. The bay colt was in good form heading into the contest and was seemingly on course for a statement win in the field for trainer Bob Baffert and owners Karl Watson, Michael E Pegram and Paul Weitman.
However, the race favourite failed to rise to the occasion, putting forward the worst performance of his career. Mckinzie finished all the way down in 12th place out of 14 competitors as Accelerate won the meet with a composed outing, clearing the field by a length. It was a shocking result for Baffert, who boasted an excellent record at the event, training three winners between 2014 and 2016.
The American horse now has to regain his reputation after the failure, beginning at the Pegasus World Cup, where he will face off against Accelerate once again. Mckinzie is backed at odds of 12/1 by Betway as of December 7, 2018 to claim victory at Gulfstream Park in Florida, although it will take a strong effort between now and January to get the bay colt back to his peak form.
Mckinzie made his debut at the end of last year in the Maiden Special Weight at Santa Anita. He dominated the seven-furlong race, winning by five-and-a-half lengths ahead of his nearest rival, displaying his speed down the stretch.
The bay colt was placed among a quality field for the first time of his career, facing off against Solomini in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity. With Mike Smith in the saddle, he lacked the pace to beat out his stable-mate in the one-mile race. Solomini took the event by three-quarters of a length by
surging past Mckinzie, although he was later disqualified for interfering with Instilled Regard, allowing the American horse to claim the win.
Mckinzie took to the track for the Sham Stakes against another competitive field and was the leading contender for the event on familiar ground in Santa Anita. Baffert’s charge was able to deliver a strong display in his second mile race, running away from his nearest rival down the straight to claim a three-and-a-half triumph over All Out Blitz. The bay colt had made serious strides in his fledgling career and was beginning to make the horse racing world stand up and take notice heading into his second year on the circuit.
After a two-month break, Mckinzie returned to the track at Santa Anita in the San Felipe Stakes. He was pitted against Bolt D’Oro, who had finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in his last outing. Baffert’s charge was a narrow favourite due to his flawless record heading into the event. The contest proved to be a thriller as two competitors battled it out down the stretch, matching each other stride-for-stride.
However, Mckinzie just had enough to beat out his rival by a head, only for the joy to be shortlived as he was disqualified for interference, knocking him down in second place. Mckinzie missed the summer and did not race again for another six months when Baffert put his charge forward for the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx. He was the leading contender for the event and duly delivered to further enhance his reputation.
Smith, in the saddle, pushed his charge on down the stretch to claim the victory by one-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Axelrod. Due to the quality of his performance at the race, he was installed as the favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. However, the meet proved to be a complete disaster for the American horse as he failed to rise to the occasion, struggling for the rhythm from the off. Baffert’s charge brought finished in 12th – 31 lengths off the pace of Accelerate.
Mckinzie has been a quality competitor in his fledgling career, although his last performance will concern Baffert and his owners. It may have just been the rigours of a new racecourse that may have knocked the horse off his stride. However, the challenges will keep coming at the Pegasus World Cup at a new venue with a number of talented horses vying for the crown, including Accelerate, with Mckinzie needing a brilliant display to regain his reputation.