The knock on Zayat Stables' Solomini heading into his fourth start was that he's been a bit green in the stretch.
Though the 2-year-old Curlin colt was good enough to place in two grade 1 races prior to the $300,000 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity (G1), that greenness was on display again Dec. 9 at Los Alamitos Race Course, and it cost him.
Solomini and jockey Flavien Prat closed late to catch stablemate McKinzie and finish in front by three-quarters of a length at the wire, but after an inquiry, stewards disqualified him to third after they determined he interfered with Instilled Regard, who was battling to the wire between the two Bob Baffert-trained horses.
McKinzie, the 1-2 favorite who finished a head in front of Instilled Regard for second, was declared the winner.
Solomini was initially part of a brief speed duel with For Him, then dropped back to third in the backstretch as Runaway Ghost rushed up to contest the pace. The first quarter went in :23.71 and Solomini dropped back to fourth through a half in :46.70, as McKinzie advanced to third, wide and just off the leaders.
Runaway Ghost had a head in front and For Him faded through six furlongs, while Solomini was last in the five-horse field. McKinzie and Instilled Regard made their move in the final turn of the 1 1/16-mile test, with McKinzie in the three path and Instilled Regard four-wide.
Solomini had more run in the stretch, however, but came in late during his closing drive and made contact with Instilled Regard. McKinzie was also involved in the contact with Instilled Regard, but the stewards determined after examining the head-on replay that he had maintained a straight course, and opted to only disqualify Solomini to third.
"When I saw it live, I thought McKinzie might have been as guilty as Solomini, but when you look at it in slow motion, he didn't come out," said steward Tom Ward. "We determined he didn't come off his path until after the contact between Solomini and Instilled Regard."
The decision to disqualify Solomini was a 2-1 majority decision, with steward Scott Chaney the only vote not to disqualify.
"I didn't think there was going to be a change," Baffert said. "(McKinzie) had a rough trip around the first turn and he got a little tired at the end. It's a long stretch and he hooked up with (Instilled Regard) early. Prat rode a great race just sitting behind them. Unfortunately (Solomini) will lay on horses in the lane and you have to be careful with him. Prat might have gotten a little over aggressive. It's really too bad they took him down. He was the better horse today."
"We got carried out in the first turn by (Runaway Ghost)," added jockey Mike Smith, who rode McKinzie. "As far as what happened in the stretch, I just rode my race, he kept trying, and we were blessed enough to get kissed into the win."
The final time for the distance was 1:42.57.
The win pushed McKinzie's earnings to $210,000 in just his second start. Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman's Street Sense colt won his debut Oct. 28, when he took a seven-furlong maiden special weight event by 5 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita Park. Out of the multiple graded stakes-winning mare Runway Model, McKinzie was bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm and was a $170,000 purchase out of the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Solomini has now placed in three straight grade 1 races—including runner-up efforts in the Sept. 30 FrontRunner Stakes (G1) and the Nov. 4 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). Solomini has a 1-2-1 record from four starts and $472,000 in earnings.
There was a 29 1/2-length gap behind the top three to fourth-place finisher For Him, who was followed by Runaway Ghost, to complete the order of finish.