Awesome Again Saturday with 5 BC qualifiers at Santa Anita; Maximum Security Looks to Remain Awesome

By Margaret Ransom

A betting bonanza is set for Santa Anita on the first Saturday of the autumn meet, with seven stakes carded including five with Breeders’ Cup implications. Overall, 11 races are on tap with a first-race post time of:30 p.m. PT. Here’s a look at the fields, with the feature attraction race 10 –the Awesome Again headlined by champion Maximum Security.

$300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1), 1 1/8 miles, 3-year-olds and up (race 10)

Bob Baffert and Maximum Security – Courtesy of Santa Anita press release

The main event – the Awesome Again – is a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup challenge event that guarantees the winner a spot in the gate for the $6 million BC Classic (G1) at Keeneland in six weeks. The race drew a field of just five. Maximum Security is 2-for-2 since Hall of Famer Bob Baffert took over as trainer, and will have regular jockey Luis Saez aboard after missing the colt’s last two races due to COVID-19-related health and travel restrictions.

The Awesome Again was contested originally as the Goodwood Stakes in honor of the Oak Tree Racing Association’s sister track, Goodwood Racecourse in England, and has been contested in the name of Frank Stronach’s 1998 BC Classic winner (who only raced twice in California and only at Hollywood Park) since 2012. In 2018, champion Accelerate used the Awesome Again as a springboard to BC Classic glory and joined Mucho Macho Man (2013), Pleasantly Perfect (2003) and Tiznow (2000) as Awesome Again-Breeders’ Cup winners.

Ferdinand and Super Diamond were winners of the race in the 1980s, and though champion Bertrando won in 1994, the race became a significant BC Classic prep when Kentucky Derby (GI) champion and Dubai World Cup winner Silver Charm won en route to a second in that year’s Classic. Lord at War, Pleasantly Perfect and Game On Dude both earned two victories each since the race was first contested in 1982 and Lava Man, Shared Belief and California Chrome are also on the list of previous winners.

Baffert and fellow Hall of Famer Charlie Whittingham have saddled more winners of this race than any other trainer with five each. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens leads all jockeys with five winners. Of the five jockeys this year, only Mike Smith has previously won this race when he guided Shared Belief to victory five years ago. Baffert not only sends out Maximum Security, he’s going with Improbable as well. Both have already earned BC Classic fees-paid berths in the Classic via wins in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic (Maximum Security) and the Grade 1 Whitney (Improbable).

The field in post-position order:

1. Take the One O One, Jose Valdivia Jr., Brian Koriner, 20-1

Acclamation–North Freeway, by Jump Start

2. Improbable, Drayden Van Dyke, Bob Baffert, 8-5

City Zip–Rare Event, by A.P. Indy

3. Sleepy Eyes Todd, Umberto Rispoli, Miguel Silva, 12-1

Paddy O’Prado–Pledge Mom, by Wild Rush

4. Midcourt, Victor Espinoza, John Shirreffs, 6-1

Midnight Lute–Mayo On the Side, by French Deputy

5. Maximum Security, Luis Saez, Bob Baffert, 3-5

New Year’s Day–Lil Indy, by Anasheed

$300,000 Rodeo Drive (G1), 1 ¼ miles (turf), fillies and mares 3 and up (race 7)

Though it was inaugurated in 1977 (as the Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Oak Tree), it’s only been since champion Estrapade won the race for the connections of Charlie Whittingham, Allen Paulson and Bill Shoemaker in 1985 that the event rose to prominence. Now it’s the final prep for the distaff turf division on the West Coast to vie for a “Win & You’re In” spot in the gate for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).

Some really good turf distaffers have returned the winner of the Yellow Ribbon/Rodeo Drive, including Brown Bess, Kostroma, Possibly Perfect, Ryafan, Fiji, Spanish Fern, Golden Apples, Megahertz, Wait a While (twice), Nashoba’s Key, Marketing Mix, Avenge (twice) and former claimer Vasilika in 2018. Mirth won a year ago and went on to finish sixth in the Breeders’ Cup and her last career race was a victory in the Robert Frankel Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita just before the new year.

This year, seven will race the 1¼ miles over the turf, including Yellow Ribbon (G2) winner Bodhicitta and runner-up Tonahutu, as well as graded winners Mucho Unusual and Maxim Rate.

The field in post-position order:

1. Tonahutu (IRE), Abel Cedillo, Doug O’Neill, 5-1

Sir Prancealot–Really Polish, by Polish Numbers

2. Maxim Rate, Luis Saez, Simon Callaghan, 4-1

Exchange Rate–Catch My Eye, by Unbridled’s Song

3. Bodhicitta (GB), Flavien Prat, Richard Baltas, 5-2

Showcasing–Solfilia, by Teofilo

4. Mucho Unusual, Juan Hernandez, Tim Yakteen, 5-1

Mucho Macho Man–Not Unusual, by Unusual Heat

5. Pretty Point, Mike Smith, Paddy Gallagher, 12-1

Point of Entry–Pretty Syrie, by Street Boss

6. Lady Prancealot (IRE), Umberto Rispoli, Richard Baltas, 2-1

Sir Prancealot—Naqrah, by Haatef

7. Catch the Eye, Victor Espinoza, David Hofmans, 12-1

Quality Road–Turns My Head, by Montjeu

$300,000 American Pharoah (G1), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-olds (race 8)

Once again, the American Pharoah Stakes (G1) – named for the 2015 Triple Crown winner who called Santa Anita his home — will not only decide the top juvenile on the West Coast, the winner will also qualify to race in the BC Juvenile (G1) as it’s a BC “Win & You’re In” event for the main event for 2-year-old colts and geldings on Nov. 7.

The American Pharoah was initially contested as the Norfolk Stakes beginning in 1970 and was renamed the Frontrunner Stakes in 2012 with the demise of the Oak Tree Racing Association. It is now in its third running named for the 12th Triple Crown winner, who was victorious here in 2014.

Other historically significant names to have won the event through the years include champions and Kentucky Derby winners Game Winner and Nyquist, as well as other champions/millionaires Lookin at Lucky, Dixie Union, Free House, Bertrando, Best Pal, Capote, Snow Chief, Chief’s Crown and Flying Paster. A year ago, BC Juvenile hero Storm The Court was third in this race before winning on racing’s championship weekend.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert holds the record with nine winners and sends out maiden Spielberg, a $1 million yearling purchase. Seven others will join him in the gate, including Best Pal (G2) winner Weston.

The field in post-position order:

1. Touchdown Brown, Juan Hernandez, Rafael Becerra, 5-1

Cairo Prince—Chicalelee, by Cherokee Run

2. Rombauer, Mike Smith, Mike McCarthy, 8-1

Twirling Candy—Cashmere, by Cowboy Cal

3. Dyn O Mite, Victor Espinoza, Keith Desormeaux, 20-1

Goldencents—Boom Dynamite, by Langfuhr

4. Notable Exception, Abel Cedillo, Jack Sisterson, 7-2

Street Sense—Poco Mas, A.P. Indy

5. Spielberg, Luis Saez, Bob Baffert, 3-1

Union Rags—Miss Squeal, by Smart Strike

6. Get Her Number, Flavien Prat, Peter Miller, 7-2

Dialed In—Fancier, by Bernstein

7. Weston, Drayden Van Dyke, Ryan Hanson, 6-1

Hit It a Bomb—Elke, by Dixie Union

8. Waspirant, Umberto Rispoli, John Shirreffs, 6-1

Union Rags—Life Is Sweet, by Storm Cat

$200,000 Chandelier Stakes (G2), 1 1/16 miles, 2-year-old fillies (race 3)

Historically, the Chandelier Stakes – run as the Oak Leaf Stakes until 2012 – has produced some of the most recognizable names in the juvenile fillies division, not to mention the older fillies and mares division. Names like Bellafina, Moonshine Memories, Songbird, Blind Luck, Stardom Bound, Sweet Catomine, Halfbridled, Composure, Excellent Meeting, City Band, Serena’s Song, Phone Chatter, Pleasant Stage, Lite Light, Sacahuista, Life’s Magic, Landaluce, Bold ‘n Determined, It’s In the Air and others not only added their names to the history books for this race, but also went on to even more success.

Again, the race a BC “Win & You’re In” event for the BC Juvenile Fillies (G1), which has successfully produced a number of winners on racing’s championship weekend.

Once again, Bob Baffert dominates the trainer standings in this race having sent out 11 previous winners and this year stacks the deck with three talented fillies – Princess Noor, Varda, and Illumination. Joining his three and another local in Miss Costa Rica in the gate is New York shipper Make Mischief for Mark Casse.

The field in post-position order:

1. Princess Noor, Victor Espinoza, Bob Baffert, 2-5

Not This Time—Sheza Smoke Show, by Wilko

2. Make Mischief, Abel Cedillo, Mark Casse, 5-1

Into Mischief—Speightful Lady, by Speightstown

3. Varda, Drayden Van Dyke, Bob Baffert, 8-1

Distorted Humor—She’ll Be Right, by Sky Mesa

4. Illumination, Luis Saez, Bob Baffert, 6-1

Medaglia d’Oro—Light the City, by Street Sense

5. Miss Costa Rica, Flavien Prat, Richard Baltas, 6-1

Hit It a Bomb—Five Star Daydream, by Five Star Day

$100,000 Speakeasy Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs (turf), 2-year-old fillies (race 5)

The race was inaugurated as the Sunny Slope Stakes (and contested for five years as the Jack Goodman Stakes and a year as the Tim Conway Stakes) and was a dirt event from its first running in 1969 through 2018. It was switched to a 5 ½-furlong grass race a year ago to accommodate a status as a BC “Win & You’re In” race for the Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).

Throughout history, though no Breeders’ Cup spot was on the line, shows some good horses having won this race including Lord Nelson, Secret Circle, Cobra King, Pleasant Tap, Desert Win, Flying Paster and Ancient Title. Bob Baffert was leading trainer when it was a dirt race having sent out six winners.

This year, nine will race, including three from trainer Doug O’Neill.

The field in post-position order:

1. The Great One, Abel Cedillo, Doug O’Neill, 6-1

Nyquist—Little Ms Protocol, by El Corredor

2. No Pedigree, Mario Gutierrez, Doug O’Neill, 6-1

Half Ours—All About Ju, by Into Mischief

3. Basque Man, Juan Hernandez, Doug O’Neill, 20-1

Mineshaft—Savorthetime, by Gilded Time

4. Commander Khai, Umberto Rispoli, Richard Baltas, 3-1

Twirling Candy—Walloon, by Alphabet Soup

5. Amanzi Yimpilo (IRE), L. Saez, Wesley Ward, 7-2

No Nay Never—Honourably, by Galileo

6. Fury Kap, Tiago Pereira, John Sadler, 6-1

Fury Kapcori—Samantha G, by Macho Uno

7. Wyfire, Flavien Prat, Peter Miller, 7-2

Dominus—Summertime, by Siberian Summer

8. Windy City Red, Jose Valdivia Jr., Jonathan Wong, 15-1

Chitu—Gator Hall, by Graeme Hall

9. Feathers (IRE), Ricardo Gonzalez, Peter Miller, 12-1

Zoffany—Broadway Duchess, by New Approach

Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.