Baffert Juveniles on Track

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McKinzie | Benoit

By Jessica Martini

Trainer Bob Baffert watched his charges Solomini (Curlin) and McKinzie (Street Sense) finish one-two under the wire in the Dec. 9 GI Los Alamitos Futurity before Solomini was controversially disqualified and placed third, leaving ‘TDN Rising Star’ McKinzie to inherit the victory and go two-for-two in his young racing career. While plans for both are still up in the air, the two promising juveniles turned in works at Santa Anita in the last two days. McKinzie went five furlongs in :59.20 (4/74) Wednesday, a week after turning in a bullet four furlongs in :47.60, and he continues to move forward, according to Baffert.

“He went off easy and he finished up strong and galloped out strong,” Baffert said of the work. “He is still getting it down. He’s still a little green.”

McKinzie, an eye-catching debut winner going seven furlongs at Santa Anita Oct. 28, was outkicked late by GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile runner-up Solomini in the 1 1/16-mile Futurity (video) while making just his second start.

“He came out of the Futurity well,” Baffert said of McKinzie. “He needed the race. He was blowing really hard afterwards, so it was a good, hard race. He came from a maiden to a Grade I and that’s a big jump. He handled it pretty well, even though he got beat, but he got beat by a good horse.”

Zayat Stable’s Solomini, who has now hit the board in three Grade I races from four lifetime outings, worked four furlongs Thursday at Santa Anita in :49.00.

“He worked today and he looked good,” Baffert said of the work, Solomini’s first since the Futurity. “Solomini ran a great race, but he came in and bumped that horse. You hate to see that–it’s the first time I’ve ever been taken down in a Grade I race.”

Baffert is keeping all options on the table for both colts.

“I really don’t have any plans,” he admitted. “We just nominate everywhere and go week by week and see where they are. With all these young horses, if they are doing well that week, we’ll run them. If not, we’ll wait.”

Baffert, who won the inaugural GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational with Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song) last January, has a pair of runners aiming for next month’s $16-million race. Collected (City Zip), winner of the GI TVG Pacific Classic and second in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, was uncharacteristically off the pace while prepping for the Pegasus in Tuesday’s GII San Antonio S. He came home third as the beaten 1-5 favorite (video).

“Collected looks good,” Baffert said. “He got something out of it, even if it wasn’t an ideal prep. It was very disappointing, but he looks good. He looked great going in, but unfortunately the trip didn’t work out for him. We’re still learning about these horses and what they like.”

West Coast (Flatter), winner of the GI Travers S. and most recently third in the GI Breeders’ Cup Classic, continues to impress in the mornings. The bay colt worked four furlongs in :47.40 Wednesday at Santa Anita.

“He’s getting stronger and I am happy with the way he’s progressing,” Baffert said of the sophomore. “He is a horse that the more distance, the more he’ll like it. He’s a true 1 1/4-mile horse and we’re excited about him. He looks fantastic.”

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