Medina Spirit among a solid field of 8 horses in Awesome Again


By Margaret Ransom

Saturday’s main event in Santa Anita is the 10th Race, the $ 300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1), a ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge event that guarantees a winner a spot in the gate for the $ 6 million BC Classic (G1) at Del Mar in five weeks.

The 9-stadium main track test drew a field of eight of the top riders representing the older division – all of them very accomplished riders – and will provide meaningful final insight into who the West Coast’s top contenders are for the Classic. .

Medina Spirit – Photo courtesy of Benoit Photo

This year’s renewal also marks the return of Zedan Racing Stables’ reigning Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Medina Spirit – until the courts say otherwise – after a victory in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. The Protonico colt will also compete for a week. after being pulled out of the $ 1million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx in favor of this race, coach Bob Baffert felt the colt’s forward running style would be hampered by his away position.

The Awesome Again was originally contested as the Goodwood Stakes in honor of the Oak Tree Racing Association’s sister track, Goodwood Racecourse in England, and was contested on behalf of the winner of the 1998 BC Classic of Frank Stronach, who has only raced twice in California and only Hollywood Park, since 2012, Pleasantly Perfect (2003) and Tiznow (2000) as the winners of the Awesome Again-Breeders’ Cup.

Ferdinand and Super Diamond won this race in the 1980s and although champion Bertrando won in 1994, the race became an important preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 1998 when the Kentucky Derby winner and Cup winner Dubai world, Silver Charm, won it en route to a second in this classic of the year. Lord at War, Pleasantly Perfect and Game On Dude have each taken two races since their first competition in 1982 and Lava Man, Shared Belief and California Chrome are also on the list of previous winners.

Last year, SF Racing’s WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and Improbable won the Awesome Again auction in front of an empty grandstand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and finished second behind Authentic in the Classic.

Authentic Kentucky Derby Winner – Courtesy of Churchill Downs / Coady Photography.

Hall of Fame members Baffert (Medina Spirit and Azul Coast) and Charlie Whittingham were tied for scoring more winners in this race than any other coach with five apiece before the 2020 renewal, but Baffert took home honors in the better trainer thanks to the victory of Improbable. Its other winners are Silver Charm (1998), Richard’s Kid (2010), Game On Dude (2011, 2012) and Mubtaahij (2017).

Other trainers with runners this year who have saddled winners in previous races include Richard Mandella (1995, Soul of the Matter; 2002 and 2003, Pleasantly Perfect; 2005, Rock Hard Ten), John Shirreffs (2007, Tiago ), John Sadler (2018, Accelerate) and Richard Baltas (2001, Freedom Crest).

Mandella is tightening the belt on Tizamagician this year, Shirreffs on Midcourt and Express Train, Sadler on Tripoli and Baltas on Idol. In fact, of all the coaches who sent runners to this year’s Awesome Again Stakes, only Ed Moger, Jr. (Stiletto Boy) has yet to reach the winner’s circle with one of his bosses.

Hall of Fame member Gary Stevens is still the most successful jockey, having guided home five winners – Cutlass Reality; 1988; Bertrand, 1994; Charm in silver, 1998; Rock Hard Ten, 2005; and Mucho Macho Man, 2013. Of the eight jockeys this year, only Kent Desormeaux has already reached the winner’s circle, having achieved four victories – 1992, Reign Road; 1993, lottery winner; 1995, Soul of matter; and 2001, Freedom Crest.

The Awesome Again is scheduled to roll out the door at 5:13 p.m. PT.

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