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McKinzie gives Baffert his first Whitney S. (G1) win
Saturday, August 3, 2019
McKinzie's victory in Saturday's $1 million Whitney S. (G1) earned the 4-year-old colt an automatic berth in the Breeder's Cup Classic (G1) and gave his trainer his first victory in the historic race.

McKinzie, who is owned by Baffert's long-time friend and clients Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman, has now won four Grade 1 races and earned $2,238,560 and has finished worse than second only once in 12 career starts.

McKinzie got a stellar ride from Mike Smith. After going three-wide into the first turn, McKinzie made the lead going into the backstretch, but Preservationist rolled past him on the outside. Smith took his mount back slightly and moved to Preservationist's outside waiting until three furlongs to run to make his move.

At the top of the stretch there were five horses across the track battling for the lead. McKinzie, in the middle, gave his connections some anxious moments, but Smith knew he had plenty horse left and pulled away to win by 1 3/4-lengths over Grade 1 winner Yoshida in 1:47.10 for the nine furlongs on the fast main track, missing the track record by about a half-second.

“I was really nervous today, I got my Whitney. You got me crying, I'm supposed to be happy,” an overwhelmed Baffert said during his winner's circle TV interview. “I'm very emotional because this horse is named after my friend. This horse is getting better with age. A mile and a quarter (in the Breeder's Cup Classic) shouldn't be a problem.”

McKinzie now has the option to train up to the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup after taking the Whitney, part of the Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” program. 

Baffert 2013