Emotion-filled Whitney Day Lands Bob Baffert in Winner’s Circle
Bob Baffert has won basically ever big race the sports of horse racing has to offer and the Hall of Fame trainer's resume is even more complete after Saturday's Grade 1 Whitney Stakes.
For all the talk of the Travers Stakes being one of those tough hurdles for Baffert to clear prior to Arrogate's victory in the midsummer derby in 2016, the Whitney Stakes has plagued him even longer. Baffert won the Travers in 2001 with Point Given and has since saddled two more winners; Arrogate in '16 and West Coast one year later.
As McKinzie loaded into the starting gate on Saturday as the favorite in the Whitney, Baffert was still searching for his first win in the race named for the Queen of Saratoga. Emotions were running high all weekend at the Spa as the late Marylou Whitney was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame on Friday and then absent from her traditional spot in the winner's circle for the race.
McKinzie is named for a friend of Baffert's who passed away in recent years and with Mike Smith aboard, he crossed the finish line first in the $1 million Whitney Stakes, the first in Baffert's career.
For McKinzie and his all-time great trainer and jockey team, there is a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic waiting. The Whitney Stakes in a 'win and you're in' for November's marquee race.