Baffert poised for Grade 1 Double at Los Alamitos
A pair of Grade 1 tilts for juveniles will take place at Los Alamitos on Saturday and Bob Baffert will have a big say in the outcome in each of those races.
In the $300,000 Futurity (G1), the silver-haired trainer will saddle two of the five entered in the field with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up SOLOMINI and exciting debut winner MCKINZIE. The former needs no introduction in running big against the best in his division this season and it would be of no surprise to see him in the winner’s circle following this event. But I like his stable mate more.
McKinzie couldn’t have looked much better in a dominant win at Santa Anita in late October and earned a stout 100 BRIS Speed figure in the process. $170,000 son of Street Sense handled seven furlongs with ease in that first run and the performance looks even more impressive given Baffert stated his colt was not fully prepared.
“He wasn’t really ready to run first out, and that race (maiden race October 28) was coming up and I said, ‘You know what? I’m just going to run him. I’m not going to work him again,’” the Hall of Fame conditioner explained. “So he wasn’t really tight for his first race”.
Having Mike Smith ride in his unveiling might have been a tell of sorts that Baffert thought he had a talented runner on this hands and Smith obviously returns to the saddle for the Futurity. The outside draw in a compact field is ideal and McKinzie might just put on another show on Saturday. Named for a long-time Baffert friend and Los Alamitos employee who passed away in August, the colt will be a fan favorite, as well.
The $300,000 Starlet (G1) also came up short with five fillies going postward, led by Baffert’s DREAM TREE. $750,000 daughter of Uncle Mo has flashed brilliance and heart from a pair of gritty wins to date, and I think that she will thrive going two turns for the initial time. Kentucky-bred lass took the blinkers off for a second career run following a debut tally and the result was the same as she took command in the lane and held off her foe late to record a stakes triumph.
Dream Tree has the pedigree to run a route of ground and I like how she did rate some in her latest race before being asked for her best. February foal could get a perfect set-up with a likely pace setter to do the dirty work early for her, allowing Drayden Van Dyke to get the filly in a groove before taking over in the stretch. Exciting bay shows a pair of fine morning drills to be at her peak in her biggest assignment to date. I expect Dream Tree to win in handy fashion.