by Santa Anita Park Press Release
December 26, 2018
ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 26, 2018) – In a race of his own. There’s no better way to describe McKinzie’s powerhouse win in Santa Anita’s opening day fixture, the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes. With an on-track crowd of 41,373 looking on, McKinzie, who came off a 31 length defeat in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs, was eighth in a field of 14 with a quarter mile to run, but with Mike Smith at the controls for Bob Baffert, McKinzie lengthened his considerable stride at the top of the stretch and the Malibu outcome was a fait accompli as he strode to a 4 ¾ length score while getting seven furlongs in 1:22.48.
Unhurried early from his number 13 post position in a field of 14 sophomores, McKinzie began picking up horses heading into the far turn en route to his third Grade I win. Named for Brad McKinzie, a highly respected longtime executive at Los Alamitos and a close friend of both Baffert and part owner Mike Pegram, McKinzie was taken off the Kentucky Derby Trail this past March and resurfaced two starts back in the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 22, a race he won by 1 ¾ lengths.
Off at 6-5, McKinzie paid $4.40, $3.60 and $3.40.
Owned by Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, the Kentucky-bred colt by Street Sense, out of the Petionville mare Runway Model, notched his third Grade I victory and improved his overall mark to 7-5-1-0. With the winner’s share of $180,000, he became racing’s newest millionaire, running his earnings to $1,086,000.
Ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr., Identity Politics was also far back early and ended up second, a head in front of Still Having Fun. Off at 13-1, Identity Politics paid $10.00 and $8.60.
Still Having Fun, who was fourth at the quarter pole, kept to his task under Kent Desormeaux and finished a neck in front of Axelrod. Off at 45-1, Still Having Fun paid $10.40.
Fractions on the race were 22.30, 44.92 and 1:09.97.
Santa Anita will be dark on Thursday and live racing resumes with a nine-race card Friday, with first post time at 12:30 p.m.
MALIBU STAKES QUOTES
MIKE SMITH, MCKINZIE, WINNER: “This horse really has something in store. You’re really better off running him like this because you don’t take too much out of yourself. Bob brought him back here, gave him a little break and his energy came back up, his weight came back up and he was ready to run today. He was loaded from the word ‘go’. I think the only anxious moment was leaving the gate when he kind of stumbled but after that he got up and he was loaded from that point on.
I’ve said all along that we haven’t seen the best of him yet. When he learns to put a few of these in a row together, we’re going to see something special.”
IRAD ORTIZ, JR., IDENTITY POLITICS, SECOND: “We had a good trip, but I had to check a little bit coming out of the gate, so we got pinched back a little. We were second best today, but my horse is improving with every race.”
BOB BAFFERT, MCKINZIE, WINNER: “After the Breeders’ Cup he came back here and I told Mike (Smith) he was doing really well and Mike worked him a couple times for me. Because after the Breeders’ Cup Mike was like, ‘is he okay? He just quit.’ And I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it, it was my fault.'”
“Coming in to this race they were all training really well but the horse is just an outstanding individual. You could just tell he was getting in gear. His namesake is looking down on him today so I was pretty excited about that and the crowd, they were all in on him. Frank made the call turning for home you could hear the crowd really got in to it so it’s pretty exciting to see that.”
“The good ones show up and he showed up. Down the backside he was way back there and I thought, ‘Well, I hope they’re going really, really fast.’ When he came in to the picture that was a good sign because it’s going to be a longer day than I really thought.”
MIKE PEGRAM, PART OWNER, MCKINZIE, WINNER; REGARDING HIS 31 LENGTH DEFEAT IN THE BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC NOV. 3 AT CHURCHILL DOWNS: “We walked out of Louisville disappointed and today, the only thing I’m disappointed in is the price! We knew he was training well here for this…When you name a horse for someone (Brad McKinzie, late longtime executive at Los Alamitos), you’ve got something invested, beyond money. It did my heart good to see this horse get lucky today.