Race of the Week 2017

Solomini DQ'd from Los Alamitos Futurity victory; McKinzie wins

Solomini DQ'd from Los Alamitos Futurity victory; McKinzie wins
Photo: Benoit

By Jonathan Lintner

McKinzie took all the money and, despite crossing the wire second, was also awarded the win Saturday after stewards disqualified his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate from a victory in the Grade 1, $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity.

Back from a runner-up effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile,
Solomini outlasted his rivals in the lane. But on his way to the wire, the colt came in on Instilled Regard, who was stuck in the middle of a three-wide duel with McKinzie on the inside.

Stewards knocked Solomini from first to third in a controversial decision.

“I didn’t think there was going to be a change," Baffert said. "...Unfortunately, (Solomini) will lay on horses in the lane and you have to be careful with him. (Jockey Flavien) Prat might have gotten a little over aggressive. It’s really too bad they took him down. He was the better horse today.’’

"I didn't think he came in that bad," Prat added.

Of course, Baffert won the race either way, this this his fourth straight in the Futurity and record 10th overall. But it was bittersweet, as Solomini's gutsy effort resulted in fewer qualifying points toward the 2018 Kentucky Derby. And by the time stewards made their ruling, McKinzie was headed back to the barn, not around for the traditional winner's circle shot.

It was an emotional victory nonetheless. 
Baffert, along with owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Pail Weitman, named McKinzie after their late friend and Los Alamitos executive Brad McKinzie. So far, the colt is living up to it.

"As far as what happened in the stretch," said McKinzie's jockey, Mike Smith, "I just rode my race, he kept trying hard and we were blessed enough to get kissed into the win.’’

McKinzie entered having made just one start, a 5 1/2-length maiden victory that led to him going off at 1-2 in wagering for the Futurity, the favorite in a field of five.

Justin Zayat, racing manager for Solomini's owner, Zayat stables, was quick to chime in on what was a 2-1 decision by California stewards,
saying on his Twitter account the call was "unfair" and "disgraceful." He likened the finish to the three-wide duel in 2014 that involved the Zayats' Mr. Z, who also absorbed some contact in the lane.

McKinzie returned $3 as a winner, and it looked as if he might get it outright by hitting the front at the top of the stretch. Instilled regard went from last to first to involve himself in the race before Solomini outlasted them both. The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:42.57.

 

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