ARCADIA, CA – Hronis Racing’s Accelerate passed yet another major test on Saturday when he overcame a poor break and an atypical trip to grind out his third straight score in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The Awesome Again is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Accelerate receiving an automatic berth in the Classic at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
After acting up in the gate, Accelerate hopped at the start when the outside post 6 gate opened. Under Joel Rosario as the prohibitive 1/5 favorite, Accelerate soon recovered but found himself running mid-pack while Shades of Victory and West Coast dueled on the front end through opening fractions of :22.89, :46.17, and 1:10.35. Running three-wide down the back stretch, Accelerate loomed up alongside West Coast, with Isotherm sandwiched between them. Poking his head in front at the 1/4 pole, Accelerate appeared poised to swoop off for another resounding victory, but both Isotherm and West Coast dug in gamely and fought back. Inside the final furlong, though, Accelerate began to edge clear, and the John Sadler trainee crossed the wire with a 2 1/4-length victory in a final time of 1:50.38 for the 9-furlong main track event.
“He left the gate slow, but he recovered nicely,” said Rosario, who also won the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes earlier on the card. “John told me he is a little slow to get going, so I just made sure we got ourselves in the game right away. I just wanted to get position and my horse was going comfortably. He loves to run. He was waiting on the turn and then he took off. He’s a really special horse and I’m thankful John gave me the opportunity to ride him the last two times.”
Making his first start since running second in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in March, West Coast faded late but still held second by a 1/2-length over Isotherm. Following the race, trainer Bob Baffert was pleased with the 4-year-old colt’s effort.
“He’s got a chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic with this race under his belt,” Baffert said. “He made that horse run today. We got beat by a really good horse. He was empty earlier than I thought, but his class kept him in it, he kept running. This race will really set him up well for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Prime Attraction was 2 3/4 lengths behind in fourth, taking that position by 3/4 of a length over The Lieutenant, while Shades of Victory faded to sixth, completing the order of finish.
Accelerate’s win was his third straight, following dominating scores in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes and the Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky improved his overall record to 21-9-5-5 with earnings of $2,492,480.
“We overcame adversity today and also probably a really wide trip,” Sadler said. “They looked like they were all floating him out a bit into that first turn. You’re always nervous in these races. He’s run so well and he’s been so consistent, so you always hope he stays consistent, so we’re very happy.”
Accelerate returned $2.60 to win, $2.10 to place, and $2.10 to show. West Coast brought back $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show, while Isotherm paid $6 to show.