McKinzie Impresses in Futurity Defeat (Or Was It a Win?)

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 10th, 2017

There was certainly plenty to discuss following the running of the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (gr. I) on December 9th at Los Alamitos.

For a five-horse field, the Futurity featured more than its fair share of post-race drama, and the race itself had as many mid-races moves and changes of leadership as the Kentucky Derby, maybe more. Every horse in the race found themselves on the lead at one point or another, yet the horse that actually crossed the wire first wound up being disqualified to third.

In essence, here’s what happened: For Him broke well and took the early lead, with Solomini in close pursuit. But the speedy Runaway Ghost, getting rank after a slow beginning, bulled his way between horses entering the first turn, carrying McKinzie wide before going on and taking over the lead from For Him. Then McKinzie moved up to track them in third, leaving Solomini and Instilled Regard as the trailers, but not for long, because on the far turn McKinzie made his bid for the lead at the same time that Instilled Regard came looping around the field like he was going to roll past everyone. Solomini, now in last place, shifted out and started to rally on the far outside.

While McKinzie and Instilled Regard matched strides on the lead, Solomini kept coming on the far outside, eventually grinding past them to cross the wire first by a bit less than a length over McKinzie, with Instilled Regard a head back in third. But there was some bumping in the homestretch, and a review of the head-on replay revealed that Solomini had drifted inward late in the race, putting Instilled Regard in tight quarters and possibly costing him second place. As a result, Solomini was disqualified and placed third in a controversial decision, leaving McKinzie as the winner.

Racing fans can debate all day long whether the disqualification was warranted, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that Solomini was the best horse on the day. The bigger question is whether he’ll be the best horse down the road; though his Futurity effort was good, he had some issues with changing leads, I was more impressed by the performance of McKinzie, who was making only his second start and his first beyond seven furlongs. Despite making an early move into a quick pace (:46.70, 1:10.64), McKinzie stayed on gamely in the homestretch and wasn’t beaten much in a race that produced a solid time (1:42.57) and respectable speed figures.

In any case, Solomini’s performance further flatters Good Magic, who beat Solomini by 4 ¼ lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Thus far, no horse has taken on and beaten tougher competition than Good Magic, who seems like a clear early favorite for the Kentucky Derby at this point in time.

Who impressed you the most in the Los Alamitos Futurity? And should I leave McKinzie at #1 in my Kentucky Derby Top 10?