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ARCADIA, CA – Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum’s globetrotting Mubtaahij finally earned what’s eluded him throughout his career – a win on American soil – when he confidently took Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.
The Awesome Again is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Mubtaahij receiving an automatic berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar on Saturday, November 4.
Breaking from post 5 under jockey Drayden Van Dyke, Mubtaahij settled near the rear while Midnight Storm posted opening fractions of :23.20, :47.06, and 1:11.56. Bidding three deep off of the far turn, Mubtaahij gained a short advantage nearing midstretch and inched away late to hit the line first by 1 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:51.32 for the 1 3/8-mile main track event.
“I was getting ready to use Drayden at the beginning of the year but then he broke his arm,” said winning trainer Bob Baffert. “I was waiting for him, and now, I have no problem putting him on a good horse. He’s pretty smart, does his homework. I like students of the game, and Mike Smith has taught him a lot. He listens, he’s a good kid, and he’s been working a lot of my horses. If you work them, we’ll throw you a bone. That’s the way it works here; just have to wait on the bone. He got one with a little filet on it today.”
Midnight Storm fought hard to hold onto second, a head in front of a hard-battling Win the Space. The race’s 6-5 favorite, Cupid, seemed poised to pounce off of the far turn but never fired in the stretch and flattened out to finish fourth. Breaking Lucky, Curlin Rules, and Donworth completed the order of finish. Dortmund was scratched.
After spending most of his first four racing years competing at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, Mubtaahij was transferred to the Bob Baffert barn this past July in hopes of finding the winner’s circle for the first time since taking the 2015 U.A.E. Derby, which granted him a berth in that year’s Kentucky Derby. The 5-year-old son of Dubawi now has a record of 18-5-4-1 with career earnings of $4,529,332.
“He’s a classy horse,” Baffert said. “This horse, his last two works really impressed us. I just threw him in here and he has the class. He’s proven. He needed today. He got a little tired there at the end. He’s good to have in the barn.”
Mubtaahij returned $8.20 to win, $4.80 to place, and $4.20 to show. Midnight Storm brought back $6 to place and $4.80 to show, while Win the Space paid $8 to show.
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