ARCADIA, Calif. — Trainer Bob Baffert is replacing fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith aboard McKinzie, the probable favorite for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic next month.
Smith finished second aboard odds-on favorite McKinzie in last weekend’s Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita. That prompted Baffert to let Smith know he was off the horse.
Baffert and Smith have enjoyed a long and successful run together, most notably last year when Justify won the Triple Crown and earned Horse of the Year honors.
Smith has ridden McKinzie in all 13 of his career starts. However, they have two wins and four seconds this year.
“I respect Mike and he’s my friend, but I’m entitled to change my mind,” Baffert said Thursday. “McKinzie is not a difficult horse to ride and my whole focus right now is to get him really right.”
Baffert has yet to name a replacement.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Arabian Knight is off the Kentucky Derby trail.
Wagering has been suspended on the 3-year-old colt for the Derby’s future wager after owner Amr Zedan announced the decision. Arabian Knight was the second choice on the morning line behind favorite Forte for the May 6 race.
“Trainer Tim Yakteen wasn’t happy with his last work & we feel it’s in Arabian Knight’s best interest not to rush & allow him more time to develop,” Zedan tweeted. “We know he’s a superior talent & our plan is to point him toward a summer and fall campaign.”
Purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, Arabian Knight won his debut by 7 1/4 lengths at Keeneland last November. He made his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest at Oaklawn in January and won by 5 1/2 lengths.
Arabian Knight had his third workout at Santa Anita.
TAMPA, Fla. — Tapit Trice rallied from last to win the $360,000 Tampa Bay Derby by two lengths and earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Luis Saez, Tapit Trice ran 1 1/16 miles 1:43.37. The 1-2 favorite in the field of 12 paid $3 to win. The 3-year-old colt earned 50 qualifying points, which places him in the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher extended his record for most wins in the Grade 3 race to six. He already has the early Kentucky Derby favorite in Forte, who won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream last weekend.
Classic Car Wash was second and Classic Legacy was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.
Tapit Trice was making his stakes debut after winning two of three starts.
“Once he got clear down the lane, he really extended himself,” Pletcher said. ”I loved the way he finished up. He relished the two turns, and the longer he goes, the better he’ll get.”