News and STORIES

McKinzie Scores Triple Bend Stakes

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Monday June 08, 2020
Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman's McKinzie returned to racing on Sunday after being away since returning from Saudi Arabia. The talented horse took the $200,000 Triple Bend Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park with help from jockey Mike Smith.

"This was a perfect out for him. He had a cozy post, and he showed his class," trainer Bob Baffert said. "It was workmanlike, and this'll really move him up for next time."

According to Baffert, the Triple Bend served as a prep for the July 4 Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park. McKinzie finished as the runner-up in last year's edition of the event.

The 5-year-old son of Street Sense saw a cut back to seven furlongs in the Triple Bend, which was for the first time since he took the Malibu Stakes (G1) in December 2018. 

Return from Saudi Arabia

The Triple Bend was his second start of the season after finishing 11th in the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack, where he raced behind a strong grouping of horses. 

Baffert said that McKinzie lost weight from the trip to Saudi Arabia and took a month off after returning to the United States.

"We're happy he's back after that fiasco (in the Saudi Cup)," Baffert said. "He's been looking really good training, in all of his works. It's great to have him back."

"He is one of those throwback champions," Smith said. "They could run five-eighths of a mile or a mile and a quarter. He just seems to be able to do it all. It is just amazing some horses can do something like that."

The Triple Bend

In the Triple Bend, Mckinzie broke from the outside post as the 1-2 favorite among a field of five. He sat in fifth through the opening quarter-mile and fourth at the half-mile point while stablemate Ax Man led the field through fractions of :23.59 and :46.13.

Fashionably Fast broke quickly out of the gate and settled in second, a half-length back from Ax Man. 

As the field turned for home, Smith made a three-wide bid on McKinzie. Fashionably Fast tried to fight against the move, but McKinzie was able to push forward and finished ahead by 1 1/2 lengths. The final time on the fast track was 1:22.56. 

Smith and McKinzie Reunited

Smith was McKinzie's jockey for the horse's first 13 starts but was eventually replaced by Joel Rosario in the Nov. 2 Longines Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), where McKinzie finished second. Rosario was also the jockey for the Saudi Cup while Smith was aboard Midnight Bisou, who finished second.

The pair proved to be a good match once again in the Triple Bend. 

"They all had class in there. You never know when a class horse is going to jump up and run, so I have a lot of respect for all of them. The wonderful thing about McKinzie is he had me in the game early, and I mean he was ready to pounce at all times," Smith said. 

"It wasn't like I had to make up a whole lot of ground to get to him or anything. I was able to get on by and hold his way. He got a great race out of that. I want to thank the owners and Bob for reuniting us again. You can't wipe this smile off my face."

Fashionably Fast was able to hold off Dark Vader to finish second by a neck, while Flagstaff finished fourth and Ax Man fifth.

McKinzie was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm and is out of the multiple grade 2-winning Petionville mare Runway Model. He was purchased for $170,000 under the name Three Amigos from Lane's End's consignment to the 2016 Keenland September Yearling Sale. 

McKinzie's record is now eight wins from 16 starts with earnings of $3,438,560.