Race Previews

Awesome Again Preview: Intriguing Field Provides Opportunity

Mike Sekulic

A strong field of eight are set to do battle this Saturday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.  For 3-year-olds and up at a mile and one eighth, the Awesome Again will serve as a “Win and You’re In” race for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4.

The ever dangerous Bob Baffert will send out two runners, including Cupid who won the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita two starts back on May 27, and seeks his third consecutive win. He also will be starting Mubtaahij who will be making his first start for the trainer.

While Baffert holds a strong hand, perhaps the most shocking entry in the history of horse racing is Dortmund. The mammoth son of Big Brown was done with racing after falling way off form at the end of last year and beginning of this year. Back from retirement, Dortmund could shock the world on Saturday.

“He needed a little time off,” said Alan Sherman, Art’s son and assistant who was on hand for the drill. “He got it and he came back really good. He’s as sound as he’s been since we’ve had him.

“It’s never easy coming back in a race like this, but what are your options? I wish they had a mile race or maybe a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, but they don’t and it is what it is.”

The Awesome Again Stakes will go off as race 10 on a stakes filled 11 race card.

Top Choice

#6 Mubtaahij – Lets see if the magical Bob Baffert can make this horse into a super star. The trainer change is the ONLY reason I’m picking Mubtaahij in this spot as we know how Baffert can improve a horse by several lengths. If he can manage to do that today he’ll win with Mubtaahij as he’s always been close to the top horses, but has never been able to beat them. He was not really pointing towards this race, but Baffert said that he was training too well not to run. That is usually a very dangerous sign. This is the first time I’m ever picked this horse so it will be interesting to see what he does.

Horses to Use in Multi Race Wagers

#8 Cupid – Make no mistake about it…if he gets back to his Santa Anita Gold Cup race they are all running for second. Cupid was on another level in that race, but last time out he wasn’t quite as impressive even though he won at Del Mar in a small stakes. That sort of effort won’t get it done today, but maybe this horse just likes Santa Anita, and this race track moves him up. Dangerous horse that you can’t leave off your tickets.

#4 Curlin Rules – Seems to be the up and coming horse in the race who finished within three quarters of a length to Cupid last time out. Curlin’s offspring usually improve with age so it is not far retched that Curlin Rules is hitting his best stride at age four. He has a win and two seconds this year, and there are no world beaters in this field. Baffert seems to hold a strong hand in the race, but this horse could pull off the upset.

Exotic Plays

#3 Midnight Storm – Earlier in the year this horse would have been under serious consideration as a win contender, but lately he has lost a little bit of form. He will likely set the pace in this spot, and that can be dangerous at Santa Anita. If he can get out in front and set soft fractions he can take this field a long ways, but in the end he will likely fade a bit and lose the lead late.

#5 Breaking Lucky – He’s a solid choice to use underneath, but his track record shows that hitting the board is the best that he can do. He will be interesting to monitor in this race though as he was beaten by Gun Runner last time out in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes by six lengths. How will he match up with this group today compared to Gun Runner?

Party Crashers

#2 Dortmund – Miracles happen every day…and this would certainly be one. However, if he somehow can get back to his top form he is definitely better than these horses. That is not likely, but there is a reason they have brought this horse back as they have to have a ton of confidence in him. If he wins this it’ll be one of the craziest stories in racing history. *UPDATE* Word is Dortmund will be scratched from race and be looking for an easier spot to make return.

Throw Outs

#1 Win the Space – Returned off a long layoff in his last, but did not show much as he finished a non-threatening fifth. He should run a bit better today, but he might not be ready for this type of competition just yet.

#7 Donworth – He has lost his last three races by a combined 59 and a half lengths.  It’s really hard to back a horse with that type of resume when he’s running in a Breeders’ Cup prep race.

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