A field of eight led by four Bob Baffert trainees head to the gate in Saturday’s $300,000 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita.
The race is a “Win and You’re In” race with the winner stamping a free ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland on Nov. 5.
The Awesome Again is one of six stakes on the 10-race card at Santa Anita on Saturday with a first post of 3:30 ET.
Baffert will send out the 8-5 morning line favorite Country Grammar. Juan Hernandez will ride the son of Tonalist for the first time and break from the four post. The five-year-old was second to Flightline in the Pacific Classic (G1) in his last outing, beaten 19 ¼ lengths.
Baffert will also send out Azul Coast (20-1), High Connection (12-1) and Defunded (6-1). The Hall of fame trainer won this race last year with Medina Spirit and with Improbable in 2020.
The biggest threat to the Baffert quartet likely is Express Train (7-2). The John Shirreffs trainee was a well beaten fourth in the Pacific Classic in his last outing. He has four wins and four seconds in his 11 trips over the Santa Anita main track.
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Let’s head out to Santa Anita for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Santa Anita Race 8 The Awesome Again G1 Post time 4:08 PT
7 Express Train 7-2
4 Country Grammar 8-5
2 Royal Ship 3-1
6 Defunded 6-1
This guy was well beaten by the express train called Flightline in the Pacific Classic (G1), getting bumped around coming out of the gate and a non-factor in a well beaten fourth. It was his first start off a four month break for the Shirreffs barn. This guy came into his last race off three triple digit Beyers. He earned a career top two back in a runner up finish to Stiletto Boy in the California (G2) over the main track here. He won the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) three back at 1 ¼ miles but the cut back here to 1 1/8 miles should suit him. He was third in this race last year behind Medina Spirit. The five-year-old should move forward second off a short break and among the top three here likely is going to offer the best value for the top spot.
He is the likely short priced favorite and one of four in here sent out by the Baffert barn that has won this race three times in the last five years. He was no match for Flightline last out but was seven lengths clear of the rest of the field in the effort. He ran second to Royal Ship two back in the San Diego Handicap (G2) off a fourth month break after returning from a profitable trip overseas. He ran second in the Saudi Cup (G1) and then won the Dubai World Cup (G1). He makes his third start of his current form cycle here and looks tough but his price is going to end up on the short side
The Mandella trainee was a well beaten third in the pacific Classic last out. The gelding has put in one of his career best efforts two back winning the San Diego ‘Cap at Del Mar. He has done some of his best running over the main track here including a head loss in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) last May and a win in the John Shear Mile here this April. He is capable of better than he showed last out.
WIN: Express train to win at 3-1 or better.
EXACTA: 7 / 2,4,6 and 4,7 / 2,4,7