Mckinzie set to miss Pegasus as Smith anticipates big Dubai World Cup run

Legendary American jockey Mike Smith believes Mckinzie has the credentials to win the Dubai World Cup as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Arrogate.

Smith and trainer Bob Baffert combined to land the Meydan prize in 2017 with Arrogate, and the pair enjoyed another great season last year, principally thanks to Triple Crown hero Justify.

The Pegasus World Cup on Saturday week was among Mckinzie's options, but the progressive four-year-old has been ruled out according to Smith. 

The California-based jockey said: "We're excited by Mckinzie and the plan is to take him to the Dubai World Cup. He's a really good horse, and improving.

"We thought about taking him to the Pegasus but he won't run there now. Instead we'll go for a prep race in America and, depending on how he goes, we'll decide whether to take him over to Dubai."

Mckinzie bounced back from a disappointing effort in the Breeders' Cup to claim a third Grade 1 success at Santa Anita on Boxing Day, and Smith believes there is much more to come.

"We're hoping he can run a big race in Dubai," he said. "He's certainly talented and taking him over there is certainly on his radar. He won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes last time and gave me a really nice feeling that day. Everything seems to be going right."

Mckinzie would be attempting to become the 12th US-trained horse to land the Dubai World Cup, and British and Irish bookmakers have him as a general 8-1 chance. Last year's winner Thunder Snow heads the betting at a best-priced 7-2.

Smith added: "I was blessed to win the Dubai World Cup on Arrogate and it's great to have another one for the race.

"Arrogate and Mckinzie are very different, the only thing they have in common is how talented they are. I don't think we have seen the best of Mckinzie yet.

"He has a lot of talent and should keep improving building up to Dubai. We'll just need him to do well on his next run, then we can get him there.

"Riding over there is incredible. It's a very special night with the biggest and best horses and races, and I hope to be part of it."

Smith made history last year when becoming the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown at the age of 52, and the fire is still very much burning with plenty to look forward to in 2019.

"We're always looking at the next three-year-old star, with races like the Kentucky Derby coming up, and I've ridden some talented horses who I'm looking forward to," said the jockey, who won the 1991 Irish 2,000 Guineas on Fourstars Allstar.

"It's hard to say who my best ones are because for many of them it's early days. I really like Big Scott Daddy, who'll run at the end of the month. He was very impressive in breaking his maiden in December. He acts like he wants two turns and is a nice horse.

"I've also got Gunmetal Gray. He won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes and I thought he did it very well.

"They'll have to make the next step and such horses need to improve but there's room for it."