Anybody that saw the 2018 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on January 6 laid eyes on a Kentucky Derby contender. And that contender saw another level of excellence.

Racing without blinkers for the first time in his young career, McKinzie was ultra-impressive in winning the grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita in just his third career start. The first two times out were with blinkers, but trainer Bob Baffert decided to go without the eye wear after a hard fought effort in the Cashcall Futurity on December 9 at Los Alamitos. That race saw this son of Street Sense elevated to the winner’s circle after stable mate Solomini was disqualified to third.

“I think he got a lot out of the race at Los Al,” says Baffert. “He showed a lot of guts and ran really hard. We wanted to pull the blinkers for the Sham to get him to relax.”

Relax he did. Stalking the pace early, McKinzie began his move entering the far turn and bolted to the lead at the top of the stretch. Pulling away effortlessly under jockey Mike Smith, the Baffert trainee saw his way to the finish in the one mile race in 1:36.58.

Did the equipment change help this talented colt? In a word from his conditioner…”Yes”.