ARCADIA, Calif. – Idle since distanced in the world’s richest race on Feb. 29, Bob Baffert’s $3.3 million earner McKinzie returns home from Saudi Arabia to head Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Triple Bend Stakes, to be contested at seven furlongs over the Santa Anita main track. A three-time Grade I winner, McKinzie hasn’t sprinted since winning the Grade I, Malibu Stakes here nine starts back on Dec. 26, 2018.
The Triple Bend, to be run for the 69th time, has attracted a strong group of five 3-year-olds and up, including John Sadler’s Flagstaff, a Grade II winner two starts back, trainer Dean Pedersen’s streaking California-bred Fashionably Fast, who tries graded stakes company for the first time as he bids for his seventh consecutive win and Baffert’s Ax Man, who will likely scratch out of Saturday’s Grade I Hollywood Gold Cup to run on Sunday.
Owner: Mike Pegram, Karl Watson & Paul Weitman
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Beaten 28 lengths in the $20 million Saudi Cup Feb. 29, this highly accomplished 5-year-old son of Street Sense returns to his homecourt and a distance that he’s two for two at. A first-out maiden winner going seven furlongs on Oct. 28, his only other sprint resulted in a 4 ¾ length victory in the Grade I Malibu on opening day, 2018. Second two starts back as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic, McKinzie has an incredible resume that has produced earning of $3,318,560 from an overall mark of 15-7-6-0.
Owner: Lane’s End Racing & Hronis Racing, LLC
Trainer: John Sadler
A lightly raced 6-year-old gelding by Speightstown, Flagstaff was unlucky to lose his most recent start, finishing a fast closing second in the Grade III, six furlong Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 18 at Oaklawn Park. Away slowly, Flagstaff was last in a field of 11 after the first half mile and was extremely wide turning for home in a big effort. Unbeaten in his two career starts at seven furlongs, winning the Grade II San Carlos Stakes two starts back on March 7 and the ungraded Damascus four races back on Nov. 2, Flagstaff has outstanding recent form in his corner as he seeks his sixth win from 13 overall starts.
Owner: Harris Farms, Inc., Per Antonsen & John Nicoletti
Trainer: Dean Pederson
A winner of six races in a row, the last four in statebred stakes, this 5-year-old California-bred gelding by Lucky Pulpit pressed the pace en route to a half length score in the one mile Tiznow Stakes here on March 1 and will shorten up to a distance at which he’s one for two. A 2 ½ length winner of his lone start against open company, a 6 ½ furlong allowance five starts back on Aug. 24 at Del Mar, Fashionably Fast is a sharp horse facing much tougher competition. With an overall mark of 16-7-3-2, he’ll be facing the toughest assignment of his career with regular rider Tiago Pereira up.
Owner: Patti & Hal Earnhardt III
Trainer: Bob Baffert
A gutty winner of a one mile classified allowance here on May 16, Ax Man defeated 2019 Grade III Longacres Mile winner Law Abidin Citizen by a head after going head and head for the early lead. Considered a top prospect early in his career, he was well beaten as the 2-5 favorite in an important Derby prep, the Grade II San Vicente Stakes, in just his second start on Feb. 10, 2018. Winless in five graded stakes attempts, this homebred 5-year-old gelding by Misremembered is 11-5-0-3 overall.
The Grade II Triple Bend Staked Post Positions
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4:00 p.m. PT, 7:00 p.m. ET
1. Flagstaff–Victor Espinoza–126
2. Ax Man–Abel Cedillo–122
3. Dark Vader–Flavien Prat–122
4. Fashionably Fast–Tiago Pereira–122
5. McKinzie–Mike Smith–124
First post time for a nine-race program on Sunday is at 12:30 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: McKinzie. Credit: Benoit Photos