Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who is tied for second all-time with four Kentucky Derby victories, will send out top contenders McKinzie and Mourinho in Saturday’s $100,000 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Worth a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1 scale) toward a berth in the first leg of the Triple Crown, the one-mile Sham serves as the first Kentucky Derby series qualifier of 2018 following the postponement of last week’s Jerome at Aqueduct.
McKinzie removes blinkers and Mourinho adds the headgear for Baffert, who can pad his record total with a fifth Sham win.
Unbeaten from two starts, McKinzie opened his racing career with a smashing maiden tally at Santa Anita in late October, netting a 100 BRIS Speed rating for the 5 ½-length decision. The son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense finished second when stretching out to two turns in the December 9 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) but was elevated to first by the stewards, who disqualified stablemate Solomini for interfering with another rival.
Baffert indicated McKinzie was too keyed up racing close to the pace and forced to move too soon on the far turn, leaving him a little weary for the latter stages. The bay colt figures to revert back to the rating tactics that proved effective first time out and regular rider Mike Smith has the call.
Mourinho showed his speed in his first two outings at Santa Anita, breaking his maiden by 4 ½ lengths and finishing second in the Speak Easy Stakes in mid-October. He raced just off the pace without blinkers in the November 11 Bob Hope (G3) and wound up a non-threatening second to Greyvitos, who returned to capture the Springboard Mile at Remington Park.
By 2010 Kentucky Derby hero Super Saver, Mourinho looks poised to show more speed Saturday with Drayden Van Dyke.
Other runners in the seven-horse field include stakes winner My Boy Jack, who was beaten three lengths finishing seventh most recently in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The Creative Cause colt raced on turf early in his career by necessity – trainer Keith Desormeaux wanted to run his pupil at two turns – and connections are confident My Boy Jack can transfer his hard-trying form to the main track. Kent Desormeaux will be up.
City Plan shipped to Golden Gate Fields to capture the December 2 Gold Rush on Tapeta and returns to Southern California for conditioner Eoin Harty. Tyler Conner retains the mount. Last-out maiden winners All Out Blitz and Shivermetimbers are also entered and stakes-placed Here is Happy completes the cast.