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Slow Down Andy won the 2023 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, proving to be too fast to catch at any point. Defending champion Defunded ran 2nd, while Senor Buscador rallied late for 3rd.
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Breaking like a shot on wet-fast track, Reddam Racing’s homebred Slow Down Andy never did, taking eight rivals on a merry chase en route to a smashing 2 ¼ length victory in Santa Anita’s Grade I Awesome Again Stakes, final steppingstone to the Grade I, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic here on Nov. 4.
Trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez, the 4-year-old California-bred colt by 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist got a mile and one eighth in 1:47.62.
A Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, Slow Down Andy now has a fees-paid berth into the Classic, which will be run for the 40th time Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.
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On what turned out to be a spectacular afternoon, Slow Down Andy cut a striking figure as he kept both Defunded and National Treasure at bay to his outside around the far turn and he proved much the best late in an effort that suggested he’ll be plenty tough at a mile and one quarter.
Most recently a close third in the Grade I Pacific Classic Sept. 2, Slow Down Andy was the 2-1 favorite in a field of nine 3-year-olds and up and paid $6.00, $3.60 and $2.80.
Out of Reddam Racing’s Square Eddie mare Edwina E, Slow Down Andy notched his first Grade I win and his third graded score from an overall mark of 14-5-4-3. With the winner’s share of $180,000, he increased his earnings to $1,276,600.
Off at 7-2 with Edwin Maldonado up, Defunded kept to his task gamely and finished one length in front of Senor Buscador, returning $4.60 and $3.40.
With Geovanni Franco up, Senor Buscador was off at 8-1 and paid $4.40 while finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of National Treasure.
Fractions, all set by the winner, were 22.97, 46.91, 1:10.59 and 1:34.92.
MARIO GUTIERREZ, SLOW DOWN ANDY, WINNER: “He’s always a good breaker. I think we took advantage of the good, clean break. He relaxed. I tried not to fight him, sometimes I fight him and he gives me his head, so my goal today was to let him run comfortable and it paid off. “He’s becoming better with age. You can see it on his record. His last few races he’s just given us his all. Right now, he’s fit, he’s ready to run in the Breeders’ Cup.”
DOUG O’NEILL, SLOW DOWN ANDY, WINNER: “First of all he is a super easy horse to train and I have to thank the people at OBR. Zillah does a lot of work along with Ocean Breeze, Carlos and Casey they do such a wonderful job. If they are all like him, it is about as easy as a job as you can get. He just goes out there and gives 100 percent every morning exercising. Tony Romero gets on him, he used to get on the great Lava Man and he says this horse is very special. Just to get a Grade I for Paul, Zillah, and for Andy and OBR it is really special.”
PAUL REDDAM, SLOW DOWN ANDY, WINNER: “I was kind of surprised, I thought everyone would try to go. The track has been pretty speed favorite all day and he just broke so smoothly that he was on top in three jumps and that worked out. “We are in for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
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