McKinzie Captures Whitney at Saratoga and Gains Automatic Berth into Breeders’ Cup Classic
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (Aug 3, 2019) – Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s 4-year-old McKinzie ($3.70), under jockey Mike Smith, held off the fast-closing 5-year-old Yoshida (JPN) to win Saturday’s 92nd running of the 1 1/8-mile, $1 million Whitney at Saratoga Race Course by 1 ¾ lengths, and secured an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 86 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held on Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
McKinzie, trained by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who won his first Whitney today, becomes the fourth horse to qualify for the Classic through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series this year, joining Inti (JPN), who won the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse; Seeking the Soul, winner of the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs and Maximum Security, who captured the TVG.com Haskell Invitational (G1).
As part of the benefits of the Challenge series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the $150,000 entry fee for McKinzie to start in the 1 ¼-mile Classic. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of North America, and a $10,000 travel allowance for all domestic horses based outside of California to compete in the World Championships.
A bay son of 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Street Sense, McKinzie won his seventh race in 12 starts, and his third Group 1 score, having previously won the Pennsylvania Derby and the Malibu Stakes last year. He was 12th in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs.
This year, McKinzie finished second in both the San Pasqual (G2) and the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) at Santa Anita, then came to Kentucky and won the 1 1/16-mile Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs. In his most recent start, McKinzie finished second in the one-mile Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park in a troubled trip.
McKinzie, who completed the Whitney in 1:47.10 over a fast track, has been the top-rated horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings since the poll began on June 11. McKinzie increased his career earnings to $2,238,360.
Today’s Whitney, before a crowd of 40,791, was christened “Marylou Whitney Day,” honoring the late philanthropist, socialite, racing owner and breeder and “Queen of Saratoga,” who passed away two weeks ago. McKinzie is named after the late Brad McKinzie, former racing executive at Los Alamitos Race Course.
“This win is very emotional for me,” said Baffert “I was telling John [Hendrickson, husband of the late Marylou Whitney] this horse was named after a close friend of ours [Brad McKinzie] that passed away a few years ago. I got very emotional after he won. I was hoping that when I was thinking about running here, I'd never won this race and wanted to see her here so it's kind of sad. It's a great honor to win the Whitney. I've never won the Whitney, so this is a huge moment for me.”
Baffert was quite clear about McKinzie’s status on the national scene in the winner’s circle.
"To me he's the best horse in the country. It's exciting. Our whole ownership group is here and it's exciting to come to Saratoga and they all came and enjoyed themselves. This is unbelievable. This is real horse racing right here. Until you've been here and experienced it, it's just a beautiful scene and when you see that you know that [horse] racing is still alive and strong.”
McKinzie broke sharply in the seven-horse field as Monongahela led into the clubhouse turn but was quickly overtaken by Suburban Stakes (G2) winner Preservationist, who set the pace up the backstretch, taking the field through three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.30. Smith kept McKinzie four wide in a stalking position in second place around the far turn before urging him to the front past a fading Preservationist and a one-length lead into the stretch. Yoshida, who won last year’s Woodward (G2) at Saratoga, closed strongly from seventh place to second around the far turn but was no match for the winner.
Vino Rosso finished third, followed by Preservationist, Forewarned, Monongahela and Imperative. Two-time Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Thunder Snow was scratched this morning due to a fever.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 championship races (13 Grade 1 events and one Grade 2 race) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held on November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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