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Frei: Update on Mackinnon – Erik Johnson’s horse – the son of American Pharoah



Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson’s interest in horse racing is well-documented, and I’ve written about it many times over the years.

Among the thoroughbreds his ERJ Racing has owned or co-owned are Rantanen, Landeskog and Mackinnon (sic).

That sound familiar?

Here are their career records, as posted on Equibase:



And Mackinnon

Even non-horse racing fans might get into this if Johnson and his associates — including trainer Doug O’Neill — succeed in getting Mackinnon into the field for this year’s Kentucky Derby and/or the Preakness or the Belmont.

As a son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Mackinnon certainly has the bloodline for it.

In his first race of 2022, the 3-year-old colt finished fourth in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita Park on New Year’s Day — considered the universal birthday for all racing thoroughbreds.

Prior to that, Mackinnon was third in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf on November 5 at Del Mar.

Those somewhat disappointing finishes, though, came after an impressive showing early in his 2-year-old campaign, and Mackinnon now has seven career starts, with three wins, one second, one third and $333,860 in earnings.

Here’s how horses qualify for the May 7 Kentucky Derby.

The field is capped at 20, and as specified above, it’s based on a points system for a series of Road to the Kentucky Derby (RTKD) races.

After the Sham Stakes, Mackinnon was tied for 30th in RTKD points.

Points races remain, though, and Johnson and his partners still hope to get Mackinnon in the Derby.

Think of what a publicity bonus it would be for the NHL if Mackinnon made the Derby field … and quadruple that (or more) if he won it and had a shot at the Triple Crown.

In 2015, his father was the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

(In photo, Erik Johnson is with one of his colts, Crosscheck Carlos, at Del Mar.)

Terry Frei ( is a Denver-based author and journalist. He has been named a state’s sports writer of the year seven times in peer voting — four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. His seven books include the novels “Olympic Affair” and “The Witch’s Season.” Among his five non-fiction works are “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming,” “Third Down and a War to Go,” “March 1939: Before the Madness,” and “’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age.” He also collaborated with Adrian Dater on “Save By Roy,” was a long-time vice president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and has covered the hockey Rockies, Avalanche and the NHL at-large. His web site is and his bio is available at

His Colorado Hockey Now column archive can be accessed here

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