McKinzie works outside stablemate Downtowner, completing seven furlongs in 1:23 4/5

McKinzie works outside stablemate Downtowner, completing seven furlongs in 1:23 4/5

Zoe Metz

Baffert Works Derby Hopefuls at Santa Anita

McKinzie goes seven-eighths; Solomini works six furlongs.

Trainer Bob Baffert sent his sophomore big guns to the track March 4 at Santa Anita Park, with a pair going six furlongs in company and stable star McKinzie going seven-eighths in company with Downtowner.

With the Southern California track rated fast a day after it was rated wet fast (sealed), McKinzie, the probable favorite for next Saturday’s San Felipe Stakes (G2) and an easy winner of the Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 6, went seven furlongs in 1:23 4/5 under Drayden Van Dyke. Downtowner, a 4-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, was given a five-furlong time of 1:00 flat. 

Baffert said the son of Street Sense  went "very well" for his expected engagement with another Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) contender, Bolt d'Oro, who is scheduled to work a half-mile Monday at 9 a.m. under Victor Espinoza.

Undefeated in three starts, McKinzie races for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. 

Going six furlongs in company were Solomini and Restoring Hope. The former, who finished in front of McKinzie but was placed third behind him and Instilled Regard after a disqualification in the Dec. 9 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (G1), went in 1:11 2/5 inside of his workmate. Gary and Mary West's homebred Restoring Hope (by Giant's Causeway ), a Feb. 2 maiden winner, went in 1:11 3/5.

Zayat Stables' Solomini (Curlin —Surf Song, by Storm Cat) finished second in both the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) and the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) prior to the CashCall Futurity.

Baffert said Solomini would make his next start in the grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park March 17.

McKinzie is sixth on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 20 points, while Solomini ranks 11th with 14 points. 

The San Felipe and Rebel offer 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 20 to the runner-up,10 for third, and five to the fourth-place finisher.

Also working Sunday for Baffert were Awesome Again Stakes (G1) winner Mubtaahij, who will be ridden by Mike Smith in next Saturday’s $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1); and Triple Bend Stakes (G1) nominee Cat Burglar. Going six furlongs in company, the pair were timed in 1:11 4/5.

Another Big 'Cap contender also worked Sunday, when Giant Expectations zipped through five furlongs in a bullet :59 for trainer Peter Eurton.

Corey Nakatani was aboard for the drill, which was the fastest of 20 at the distance over the Santa Anita main track Sunday.

The millionaire son of Frost Giant  has four victories that include the Pat O'Brien and San Antonio stakes, both grade 2, last year.               

Other probables for the 81st edition of the Big 'Cap include: Accelerate, Curlin Road, Fear the Cowboy, Hoppertunity, Prime Attraction, and Top of the Game.

Confirmed jockey assignments have Nakatani on Giant Expectations, Flavien Prat on Hoppertunity, and Kent Desormeaux on Top of the Game.