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ARCADIA, CA – Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella’s popular Tizamagician takes another shot at the highest level of racing in Saturday’s $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
The Awesome Again is a 1 1/8-mile dirt route open to horses 3 and up that serves as the penultimate event on an 11-race card with a local first post time of 12:30 PM. The race is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar this November.
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Here’s a look at the full field for the Awesome Again:
1. Tizamagician 4/1 – He cuts back in distance after running at either 1 1/4 or 1 1/2 miles in his past 4 starts, winning both longer races in April’s local Tokyo City (G3) and the Cougar II (G3) at Del Mar. He set a pressured quick early pace in the Pacific Classic (G1) last time out and held on for second, 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner. He’s one of several runners in this field who runs prominently early.
2. Midcourt 12/1 – He returned from nearly 6 months away to defeat allowance rivals in a local mile-long dirt route in June and now stretches back out having not missed the board in 4 starts (2-1-1 record) at this trip. His last win came over this course and distance in early 2020’s San Pasqual Stakes (G2), but he struggled in past Grade 1 tries, including a distant third in last year’s Awesome Again.
3. Express Train 4/1 – Midcourt’s stablemate in the John Shirreffs bar is almost as inconsistent; when at his best, he can post 100+ Beyer Speed Figures for winning graded dirt route stakes, but then he’ll throw up a total flop like his last-out sixth as the 2/1 favorite in the Pacific Classic. Will he rebound with another peak performance after his latest valley? He owns 1 victory in 6 tries over this dirt.
4. Stilleto Boy 20/1 – He steps up to the top level after finishing a late-running third in the 1-mile Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar in his second start for trainer Ed Moger Jr. He shipped to California having won 2 of 3 on dirt including the 1 1/16-mile Iowa Derby, but his successes came when running on the front end and he showed in the Shared Belief that he’s not fast enough to keep up early here.
5. Medina Spirit 5/2 – He scratched out of last week’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) against fellow 3-year-olds in order to stay home and compete against older horses for the first time. He either finished first or second in 4 starts over this dirt and won the Shared Belief last time out in his return from a 3 1/2-month break. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez keeps the mount.
6. Azul Coast 12/1 – He defeated Del Mar optional claimers in a dirt route by a head in his second start of his 4-year-old campaign. He won last spring’s 1 1/8-mile El Camino Real Derby, so the distance shouldn’t be an issue, and last time out, he showed a new ability to run close to the pace. New jockey Abel Cedillo may try keeping him just off stablemate Medina Spirit, the projected pacesetter.
7. Tripoli 3/1 – He upset the Pacific Classic at 6/1 last time out, earning his third 100+ Beyer from as many starts on dirt after his first 11 career appearances came on turf. He won 2 of those starts, with the other coming at 1 1/16 miles over this course in June against optional claimers. Purchased as a yearling for $450k, it took him longer than his owners likely expected, but he’s finally blossoming.
“Tripoli won a nice race (on dirt) at Santa Anita in the spring,” trainer John Sadler said, referring to a route race on June 19. “We took him to Del Mar and he continued his improvement with a second in the San Diego Handicap (G2). Then he came back and won the Pacific Classic. He’s a horse that just loves the dirt right now. He’s honest and consistently runs well. He was unlucky a few times on the turf, but he should run well on Saturday. It looks like a good spot.”
8. Idol 5/1 – He was a hard-fought grinding winner of March’s 1 1/4-mile Santa Anita Handicap (G1) in his most recent start, his sixth straight since debuting last September late in his 3-year-old season. He showed in the Big Cap that he’s talented enough to win with the right trip for his running style. Jockey Joe Bravo will need to work him hard in the stretch; hope he hasn’t skipped arms day lately.
“He worked (6 furlongs Sunday) in 1:12; he went good,” said trainer Richard Baltas. “He’s not cranked up. If he wins, he wins, but this is not our goal.”
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