McKinzie headlines outstanding overflow field in Malibu Stakes

Mike Willman, for Santa Anita
December 14, 2018 07:23pm

With owners and trainers nationwide looking for one last chance to run in a Grade 1 stakes restricted to 3-year-olds, Santa Anita’s seven furlong, $300,000 Malibu Stakes has attracted an extraordinary cast of 16 sophomores (14 to run, with two on the also eligible list) headed by Bob Baffert’s McKinzie on opening Wednesday.


One of five horses entered by Baffert, two-time Grade 1 winner McKinzie will cut back in distance following a 31-length drubbing at the hands of Horse of the Year candidate Acclerate going a mile and a quarter in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.


Trainer Steve Asmussen’s talented Copper Bullet and Dale Romans’ Seven Trumpets head a solid group of six Eastern shippers in what shapes up as an epic renewal of Santa Anita’s signature opening day feature.




Owner: Karl Watson, Mike Pegram & Paul Weitman 

Trainer: Bob Baffert


A smashing 5 ½-length first-out maiden winner going seven furlongs in October of 2017, this gifted son of Street Sense enters the Malibu with the most accomplished resume and biggest bankroll.  A winner via disqualification of the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity in his second start, he galloped by 3 ½ lengths in Santa Anita’s Grade 3 Sham Stakes on Jan. 6 of this year and was subsequently disqualified from victory in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes on March 10. Forced off the Derby trail due to a minor ailment, McKinzie resurfaced in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 22, and responded with an authoritative 1 ¾-length victory. Off at 7-2 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, McKinzie faltered badly after the first half mile, but he’s bounced back well with a solid work tab to his credit, including a bullet five furlongs here on Dec. 10 of 59.20 — best of 64 at the distance.  With an overall mark of 6-4-1-0, he has earnings of $906,000. He’ll be ridden for the seventh consecutive time on Wednesday by “Big Money” Mike Smith.



Owner: Slam Dunk Racing 

Trainer: Michael McCarthy


Highly accomplished in his own right, Santa Anita-based Axelrod comes off a ninth-place finish, beaten eight lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and returns home to Santa Anita following four out of town races: victories in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby July 14 and the Grade 3 Smarty Jones Stakes Aug. 25; a close second to McKinzie in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 22; and his try in the Breeders' Cup. A one-mile maiden $50,000 claiming winner in his second start on Aug. 30, 2017, at Del Mar, this Florida-bred colt by Warrior’s Reward, who was purchased as an Ocala Winter Yearling for $25,000, has flourished under McCarthy’s guidance, posting an 11-4-2-1 record, good for earnings of $732,925. 



Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC & Willis Horton Racing, LLC 

Trainer: Steve Asmussen


Fresh off a scintillating gate to wire allowance score going seven furlongs on Nov. 23 at Churchill Downs, this Kentucky-bred colt by More Than Ready could be the “now” horse in the Malibu lineup. A four-length winner of the Grade 2, 6 ½ furlong Saratoga Special in his fourth start on Aug. 13, 2017, Copper Bullet was subsequently sidelined until resurfacing last month at Churchill.  Although based in Kentucky, he’s been on the grounds here at Santa Anita with Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi since early this month and has three recorded drills over Santa Anita’s main track. With three wins and two seconds from five starts, he’ll be ridden for the first time on Wednesday by Jose Ortiz. 




Race 9 of 10 


Approximate post time 3:30 p.m. PT. 

1. Calexman—Geovanni Franco—120
2. Majestic Dunhill—Manuel Franco—120
3. Copper Bullet—Jose Ortiz—120
4. Still Having Fun—Kent Desormeaux—122
5. Identity Politics—Irad Ortiz, Jr.--120
6. Axelrod—John Velazquez—122
7. Seven Trumpets—Robby Albarado—120
8. Nero—Joe Talamo—120
9. Ax Man—Drayden Van Dyke—120
10. Bobby’s Wicked One—Tyler Gaffalione—120
11. Greyvitos—Evin Roman—120
12. Kanthaka—Flavien Prat—122
13. McKinzie—Mike Smith—124
14. Solomini—Joel Rosario—120 


Super Sol—Brian Hernandez, Jr.—120
Cool Bobby—Rafael Bejarano—120 



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