The Sham Stakes was run at Santa Anita on January 6th and won by McKinzie for trainer Bob Baffert.
Previously: Mucho Macho Man
Fractions: 23.69, 47.74, 1:12.17, 1:36.58
Race Flow: Moderate pace
Winning Beyer Speed Figure: 97
On The Winner: McKinzie was improved in this race taking blinkers off. He was a little headstrong in his previous start, the Los Alamitos Futurity in which he finished second but was placed first (we should note that Instilled Regard, who was third in the Los Al Futurity, came back to win the Risen Star on January 13th at Fair Grounds). Today though, he was calm and restrained sitting off the moderate pace, he moved easily to the lead, and drew off comfortably. There was some tail-swishing at the top of the lane, which is not ideal, but there was nothing seriously wrong with his effort. It did come back fast, though he beat a suspect group (here, the form from his Los Al Futurity is strong).
We prefer Mask to McKinzie at this stage largely off Mask’s impressive debut and remember this was McKinzie’s third start (Mask just made his second). But clearly, this is a very talented horse for a trainer in Bob Baffert that knows what to do with a good three year old.
On The Others: Shivermetimbers was very disappointing. He had some things to like coming in, sat a perfect trip pressing the moderate pace, and had nothing in the lane. All Out Blitz set the moderate pace, and had every chance. He ran fine, but likely has distance limitations and looks likely to turn back to sprint races. My Boy Jack had a good trip but little run and seems likely to return to the grass.
What’s Next: The next Southern California prep is the Lewis on February 3rd, but that won’t have McKinzie (more below). The series continues with the San Felipe on March 10th and the Santa Anita Derby on April 7th.
Baffert is going to “ease off” McKinzie a little now, getting a break which will see him skip the Lewis next month. The San Felipe in March seems like a logical next spot for him.