News and STORIES

McKinzie and Others Prepare For Saudi Cup

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday February 13, 2020
Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) runner-up McKinzie is being prepared by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert for the $20 million Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh Feb. 29. He breezed seven furlongs in 1:25 1/5 on Tuesday at Santa Anita Park. Baffert is also preparing Mucho Gusto for the race. 

"They ship out of here on the 18th," Baffert said from California. "We're tightening the screws now. So far, he looks great. Mucho Gusto came out of his race great, too."

Saudi Cup Starters

The son of Street Sense is a four-time grade 1 winner, but he is unraced this year after a 2019 campaign that included two graded stakes wins and five second-place finishes. McKinzie's owners are Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. 

Prince Faisal Bin Khaled's Mucho Gusto is a 4-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man. He scored his first grade 1 in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes Presented by Runhappy (G1) Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park. In what was his first workout since the Pegaus, Mucho Gusto breezed five furlongs in 1:02 Feb. 8 at Santa Anita. 

Other possible Saudi Cup starters include Benbatl, Midnight Bisou, Maximum Security, Gronkowski, Magic Wand, Chrysoberyl, Gold Dream, and Tacitus. 


According to Baffert, Nadal will be considered for various qualifying stakes on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Nadal is the short-priced winner of the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes (G2) Feb. 9. Along with Nadal, other leading 3-year-olds, including graded stakes winners Thousand Words and Authentic, will also be considered. 

"They're all going to be nominated to all the preps from here on out. Just whoever is doing great that week will ship," he said. "But right now with Nadal, I'm looking at the Rebel. That seems like the logical spot for him."

The Rebel Stakes (G2) is a $1 million, 1 1/16-mile dirt race at Oaklawn Park on March 14. Baffert has scored the stakes race six times, and one of those was with Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015. 

Nadal is a Blame colt owned by George Bolton, Arthur Hoyeau, Barry Lipman, and Mark Mathiesen. In future-wager betting that closed Sunday, prior to his win in the San Vicente, Nadal was the shortest price among individual betting interests for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) May 2 at Churchill Downs. 

After being bet down to 8-1 odds, he was just shorter than Tiz the Law, winner of the Holy Bull (G3). 

Other Derby Choices

Other popular Derby choices were Authentic and Thousand Words at 15-1 and 16-1, respectively. Both of the horses are aiming for the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2) March 7 at Santa Anita. 

Eight Rings is set to breeze after taking time off in December and January, according to Baffert. However, the winner of the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) last year at 2 has no set schedule. 

"I don't have a schedule for him yet," Baffert said.

There are also things happening in the 3-year-old division. Baffert has slowed down training for the three-time grade 1 winner Bast, who is at the top of the points leaderboard for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill May 1. 

After scoring the Jan. 5 Santa Ynez Stakes (G2) in her seasonal debut at Santa Anita, Bast breezed on Jan. 18. Since then, she has not returned to the worktab.

"She's still in training; I just haven't breezed her," he said. "I just gave her a little freshening there, just light training."