Decisions by Hall of Fame trainers Bob Baffert and Richard Mandella during the week are expected to change the look of major stakes this weekend and in the upcoming month of August.
Baffert, who entered a trio of 3-year-olds in Saturday’s $100,000 Shared Belief Stakes, has indicated he will scratch the most highly regarded of them, Uncle Chuck, and ship the undefeated (2-for-2) son of Uncle Mo to Saratoga for the $1 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 8.
In addition, Baffert said he will scratch McKinzie, a surprise entry in Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Bing Crosby Stakes, and reserve the career earner of more than $3.4 million for a possible next start in either the Grade 2, 7-furlong, $150,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes here on Aug. 29 or the Grade 1, 1 1/8-miles, $600,000 Woodward Handicap at Saratoga a week later.
Mandella, who said on Sunday he was strongly considering taking Eddie Read Stakes winner United off the turf for the meeting’s signature race, the Pacific Classic on Aug. 22, changed his mind.
“I didn’t realize that the Pacific Classic (purse) had been cut back from $1 million to $500,000,” Mandella said. “I realize that $500,000 is still a lot of money, but I think it’s best to keep him on the path we’d planned to get him back to the ($4 million) Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“He’ll go in the Del Mar Handicap (Grade 2, $200,000, 1 3/8-miles turf, Aug. 22).”
United was second in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita, edged out at the wire by eventual Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar.