America's top-rated older horse, Accelerate, and last year's Eclipse champion 3-year-old, West Coast, are set to face off at a mile and one eighth in Saturday's Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. One of four Grade I Breeders' Cup “Win and You're In” Challenge Races on Saturday, the winner of the Awesome Again, which attracted a field of six 3-year-olds and up, will earn a fees-paid berth into the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 3.
Trained by John Sadler and a winner of three Grade I stakes (all at a mile and a quarter) this year, including a record setting 12 ½ length score in the mile and a quarter Pacific Classic Aug. 18 at Del Mar, Accelerate is the early favorite to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.
Bob Baffert's West Coast, idle since running second in the Grade I Dubai World Cup March 31, broke his maiden in his second start at Santa Anita in March, 2017 and counts the Grade I Travers Stakes in 2017 as his biggest career win.
ACCELERATE – Owner: Hronis Racing, LLC; Trainer: John Sadler.
A 5-year-old full horse by Lookin At Lucky, he has truly flourished as an older horse, evidenced by his four graded stakes scores this year: The Grade II San Pasqual here on Feb. 3, the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 10, the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita May 26 and the afore mentioned Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 18. With regular rider Victor Espinoza going to the sidelines due to injury in July, eastern-based Joel Rosario was aboard for the first time in his most recent start and will ride him back on Saturday. With a lifetime mark of 20-8-5-5, Accelerate has earnings of $2,312,480 and is undoubtedly the horse to beat in the Awesome Again.
WEST COAST – Owner: Gary & Mary West; Trainer: Bob Baffert.
Although idle since running second in the Grade I Dubai World Cup March 31, Baffert has proven time and again that he can win races of this magnitude off of works alone, evidenced by McKinzie's score in last Saturday's Grade I Pennsylvania Derby. A winner of five consecutive races last year, culminating in rousing Grade I tallies in the Travers (Aug. 26) and Pennsylvania Derby (Sept. 23), West Coast was subsequently a close third behind eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 4 and was second to Gun Runner again in this year's Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational Jan. 27, a race in which he earned a career-top 117 Beyer Speed figure. By Flatter out of the Honour and Glory mare Caressing, West Coast will be reunited with Mike Smith, who hasn't ridden him since his last win, which came four starts back in the Pennsylvania Derby.
GRADE I AWESOME AGAIN STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 11 of 12 Approximate post time 5 p.m. PT
Shades of Victory—Martin Pedroza—121
Prime Attraction—Kent Desormeaux—121
The Lieutenant—Flavien Prat—121
West Coast—Mike Smith—123
Special early first post time for Saturday's 12-race program is at 12 noon. Admission gates will open at 10 a.m. For additional information, please visit www.santaanita.com.
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