BAFFERT’S MCKINZIE ROMPS BY 4 ¾ LENGTHS IN GRADE I, $300,000 MALIBU STAKES

BAFFERT’S MCKINZIE ROMPS BY 4 ¾ LENGTHS IN GRADE I, $300,000 MALIBU STAKES; WELL BEATEN IN BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC, HE REBOUNDS TO GET SEVEN FURLONGS IN 1:22.48 UNDER SMITH

OPENING DAY CROWD OF 41,373 USHER IN 82ND SANTA ANITA WINTER MEETING

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.