Right after the Rodeo Drive Stakes, another Breeders Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge race is on tap with the $300,000 Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes for 3-year-olds and up over a mile and one eighth. A field of six is on tap, with the winner earning a berth into the prestigious $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic here on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Race 10 on the 11-race card has an approximate post time of 8:13 p.m. ET.
#4, McKinzie, Mike Smith, 4-5
The morning-line and early Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite will be making his 13th career start (7-4-0) and is 2-3-0 in five starts this year. In his last start, McKinzie is coming off a hand ride win by 1 ¾ lengths over Yoshida (JPN) in the $1 million G1 Whitney Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3., where he earned a 111 Beyer. And now he comes back to California and his home track where he is 3-3-0 in his last six starts and is looking for his 5th G1 win. I wish I could look to a higher power to beat him, but just can’t. The pick.
#1, Higher Power, Flavien Prat, 2-1
Higher Power defeated three other horses in today’s field (Draft Pick, Mongolian Groom, Seeking the Soul) in a resounding 5 ¼ length victory in the $1 million G1 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 17. In 7 starts this year, he has posted a 3-1-1 record, winning two of his last three and three of his last five races. Flavien Prat comes back on board for his second straight mount, where he earned a 107 Beyer. The showdown is set for McKinzie and Higher Power to meet in a great preview of what might be to come on the first Saturday in November. Runner-up, but barely.
#2, Draft Pick, Joe Talamo, 8-1
Draft Pick will be making his 13th career start (3-3-3) and is 1-1-1 in three starts this year. He has finished in the money in seven straight starts (3-3-1), including a second-place finish to Higher Power in the Pacific Classic. A start earlier, he finished a tough third against today’s entrant Mongolian Groom and to eventual winner Catalina Cruiser in the $200,000 G2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 20. Joe Talamo comes back for his second straight mount and looks for another duel with the top two choices. In the mix, but comes up short again.
#3, Seeking the Soul, Brian Hernandez, Jr., 4-1
The Dallas Stewart-trained Seeking the Soul is coming off a disappointing 7th-place finish in the Pacific Classic. However, prior to that, he finished third to McKinzie in the G2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3 and followed that up with a surprising neck victory over Quip in the $600,000 G2 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill on June 15. Basically, you never know what you are going to get with him. He has talent and Stewart always seems to pull these out of his hat. For his 29th career start, I think he improves from his last, but it won’t be enough for the top three. Will be heard from.
By Lou Monaco