Horse Racing
Home | Schedule | Wire

In surprising move, Baffert takes jockey Smith off McKinzie

In this image provided by Benoit Photo, winning trainer Bob Baffert, front left, congratulates John Velazquez, right, for the win with Bast in the Grade I $300,000 Chandelier Stakes horse race Friday, Sept. 27, 2019, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP)

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) 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.

Updated October 3, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2019 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.