McKinzie Seeking Another Grade 1 in Awesome Again
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
Article Courtesy of Aaron Halterman of the Racing Dudes
Santa Anita Park will play host to a key Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) prep this Saturday when it hosts the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1). Six males have drawn into this year’s event, which will be televised on NBC Sports at 6:30 PM ET.
Last year, Accelerate used this race as his final prep before winning the Classic. That is exactly what trainer Bob Baffert is hoping to do with McKiznie, who is currently the favorite to win the Classic after cruising home to an easy win at Saratoga in the Whitney Stakes (G1). The Street Sense colt has been no worse than second in all five starts this season, with his other victory coming in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. He has finished second in both local starts this year, each time by a narrow margin, and in 12 career starts, he has only missed the board once, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs.
The winner of the Awesome Again Stakes will receive an automatic position in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of California will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Here is a look at the full field:
#1 Higher Power – He enters this race off of easily the biggest win of his career in the TVG Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar, a “Win and You’re In” that stamped his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Since moving to the John Sadler barn, this colt turned his career around in a major way, winning twice in four starts. His last race at Santa Anita Park was an allowance/optional claiming win back in June. He went off at odds of 9/1 in the Pacific Classic, but do not expect anything close to that in this spot.
#2 Draft Pick – Just like Higher Power, the Pacific Classic may have been this colt’s best career race, too. Despite a less-than-ideal trip, he was able to rally for second at double-digit odds. That effort came after finishing a decent third in the San Diego Handicap (G2) two starts back. This consistent colt has finished on the board seven straight times and has won his last three local appearances.
#3 Seeking the Soul – His last race in Southern California was not pretty as he faded in the Pacific Classic to an off-the-board finish. That came on the heels of one of the biggest wins of his career, the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, a “Win and You’re In” that secured his place in the Classic gate. Over the course of this season, he has faced many of the best older males in the country, including in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and the Dubai World Cup (G1). Look for him to get back to his consistent ways here.
#4 McKinzie – This is the current favorite to win the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) despite a poor effort in last year’s Classic at Churchill Downs. He earned his favoritism by winning the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last time out, perhaps his most impressive victory of the season. He is two-for-six this year and has finished no worse that second in any of those starts. Accelerate won this event last year on his way to Breeders’ Cup success, a path that McKinzie’s connections hope to follow.
#5 Mongolian Groom – This horse has been entered in every big event for older males lately, so it is no surprise to see him here. Three races back, he was second in the San Diego Handicap before running third in the Pacific Classic. After those solid efforts, his connections sent him to Saratoga, where he was fifth in the Woodward Stakes (G1) on just two weeks’ rest. He has had proper time off this time around, which might have him ready to run big in this spot.
#6 Isotherm – The third-place finisher in last year’s running is back to try his luck once more. Following the Awesome Again, he went to Churchill Downs but finished last of nine in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He has just one start under his belt in 2019, a fourth in the Harry F. Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar, but that was likely just a prep for this event. Still, he will need to be on his game in order to have a chance to pull off the upset.
The Awesome Again Stakes serves as one of seven Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” events this weekend at Santa Anita Park and Belmont Park. Here is the full schedule for this coming weekend:
- Friday: The Chandelier Stakes (Juvenile Fillies) at Santa Anita Park
- Friday: The American Pharoah Stakes (TVG Juvenile) at Santa Anita Park
- Saturday: The Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (Longines Classic) at Belmont Park
- Saturday: The Vosburgh Stakes (Sprint) at Belmont Park
- Saturday: The Awesome Again Stakes (Longines Classic) at Santa Anita Park
- Saturday: The Rodeo Drive Stakes (Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf) at Santa Anita Park
- Sunday: The Zenyatta Stakes (Longines Distaff) at Santa Anita Park
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue next weekend with an eye-popping 16 events, starting Friday at Keeneland on the Lexington track’s opening day. The Action will continue throughout the country on Saturday and Sunday, with more races from Keeneland, Belmont Park, and Santa Anita Park.
For more coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, head over to racingdudes.com.
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