Sidelines with John Clay

McKinzie injury has Bob Baffert scrambling Kentucky Derby picture

Trainer Bob Baffert is interviewed after Abel Tasman won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2017. Baffert will run the unbeaten Justify in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park in California.
Trainer Bob Baffert is interviewed after Abel Tasman won the 2017 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 5, 2017. Baffert will run the unbeaten Justify in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park in California. Lexington Herald-Leader

Though Keeneland held the post position draw for Saturday’s running of the Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, the big news on the Kentucky Derby trail came from the west coast.

On an NTRA teleconference on Tuesday, trainer Bob Baffert indicated that his talented three-year-old McKinzie will probably not make the Kentucky Derby and is a “longshot” for the Preakness on May 19.

McKinzie won the Los Alamitos Futurity last December and the Sham Stakes in January. He hit the finish line first in the San Felipe on March 10 only to be disqualified and placed second behind Bolt d’Oro.

McKinzie was to battle Bolt d’Oro in Satuday’s Santa Anita Derby until a hock problem surfaced last week. Though McKinzie scan was clean, Baffert has taken the colt out of training for the time being.

“Every day of training he misses puts him behind,” said the trainer. “Whatever is going on there, we’re just going to let it heal itself.”

After a standout work by Justify on Monday, Baffert said he decided to put the undefeated but lightly-raced three-year-old in the Santa Anita Derby instead of shipping him to the Arkansas Derby for that April 14 race.

Justify has just two career starts - a win on Feb. 18 in a maiden special weight at Santa Anita; a win on March 11 in an allowance optional claiming at Santa Anita.

And while it’s a tall order going up against Bolt d’ Oro, Baffert said he likes the idea of seeing where Justify stacks up against top competition. The son of Scat Daddy would likely need to finish first or second Saturday to earn enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Bolt d’Oro is atop the latest Horse Racing Nation Kentucky Derby poll, followed by Florida Derby winner Audible and runaway UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn.

Baffert will give Solomini an extra week and run him in the Arkansas Derby instead. Restoring Hope, another Baffert trainee, will run in Saturday’s Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

Meanwhile, Good Magic was made the 2-1 favorite for Saturday’s 94th running of the Blue Grass. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is coming off a third place finish in the Fountain of Youth. He is trained by Chad Brown, who trained Cloud Computing to the win in last year’s Preakness.

Free Drop Billy, trained by Dale Romans, is second choice in the Blue Grass at 5-1. Quip, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, and Flameaway, tained by Mark Casse, are co-third choices at 6-1 in the field of 14.

Horse Racing Nation Kentucky Derby poll

Horse (1st-place votes)

Points

Previous

1. Bolt d'Oro (14)

500

1

2. Audible (3)

463

6

3. Mendelssohn (5)

436

15

4. Magnum Moon

423

4

5. Justify (2)

400

3

6. Good Magic

389

5

7. Solomini (1)

348

7

8. Noble Indy

314

9

9. Enticed

307

10

10. McKinzie (1)

270

2

11. Quip

216

12

12. My Boy Jack

208

13

13. Hofburg

196

N/R

14. Flameaway

161

14

15. Lone Sailor

116

17

16. Instilled Regard

112

16

17. Runaway Ghost

109

19

18. Promises Fulfilled

91

11

19. Gronkowski

64

N/R

20. Free Drop Billy

52

N/R

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