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Drayden Van Dyke aboard Improbable after winning the 2020 Awesome Again Stakes
Part 2 - American Pharoah, Chandelier, Unzip Me, and Speakeasy Stakes
The highlight race of the Santa Anita fall meeting is the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1), featuring the best older horses of the west coast going 1 1/8 miles on the main track, and is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Classic to be run on Saturday November 7 at Keeneland. Racing in California continues without fans in attendance, but conditions were typical for late September with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80's, the main track fast and the turf course firm. A short field of 5 made final entry, with Maximum Security sent off as the 1-5 favorite off s6 straight wins including the Saudi Cup in February and the Pacific Classic (G1) last out. In to challenge him included 9-5 second choice Improbable, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) and Whitney Stakes (G1), and 9-1 third choice Sleepy Eyes Todd, winner of the Charles Town Classic (G2).
Improbable leads down the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Improbable Van Dyke 5.60 2.40 2.10 5 Maximum Security Saez 2.10 2.10 4 Midcourt Espinoza 2.40 Winning Time: 1:49.01 $1 Exacta 2-5 4.40 $1 Trifecta 2-5-4 9.10Results Chart
Left: Improbable in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert who trains the first two finishers said, "I knew I was coming in here with two really good horses. Maximum Security was in that scrum and they were really running up close. I saw Drayden, he knew what was happening, so he just sat back. He rode a great race, he knew what was going on, he took his time, rode him with patience. He's had good luck with this horse. He loves this track. He seems to be better in the gate here that's why we ran him here.
Right: Improbable heads back to the barns.
Left: Improbable in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Drayden Van Dyke said, "The gate guy did a fabulous job with him, holding him still, he got out clean. I was going to see what everyone else was gonna do, and they did what they did and I did what I did and it worked out good. I take it a day at a time, and I'm grateful for this win. He showed a different tactic today which he showed before when he was two. He used to come off the pace more than usual."
Right: Improbable in the post parade. Vak Dyke added, "With the longer distances it seems like he would be closer, but they were going quick and he was back there going his comfortable pace and I was confident with him. He's been training super, so I was just waiting for the stretch to come. It's awesome, especially for Bob (Baffert) and the owners, everyone involved. I'm grateful for the chance. He's gotten better and better. He's a great horse."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Maximum Security in the paddock before the race. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "I hate to see my horses have to beat the other horse but ‘Max' ran gallantly. He fended off the speed but the next one is the big one, but today it was all about Improbable."
Right: Third place finisher Midcourt returns after the race.
The horses break from the gate for the Awesome Again Stakes.
Mucho Unusual wins the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1)
Jockey Juan Hernandez sent Mucho Unusual to the lead down the chute through fractions of 24.29, 49.52, 1:14.07, and 1:37.28 while pressed by 9-2 fourth choice Tonahutu and stalked by Maxim Rate. Entering the lane, Mucho Unusual opened up a 1 1/2 length lead through 9f in 1:48.76. Kept to task by Hernandez, Mucho Unusual easily held off Maxim Rate to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 2:00.19. It was another length back to late-running favorite Lady Prancealot third.
Left: Mucho Unusual in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Juan Hernandez, celebrating his first Grade 1, said, "My filly ran very sharp and she was really comfortable in the race. They let me go to the lead easily, so I took it, and then the rest of the race the filly did by herself. She's a really nice filly. When I asked her to run at the stretch, she responded really well. It means a lot. It is my first Grade 1, I always wanted to win a Grade 1, I always tried really hard, but I couldn't, today was the day. To win these races it's all about opportunity, I want to thank the owners and trainer for this big opportunity."
Right: Mucho Unusual heads back to the barn after the race. Winning trainer Tim Yakteen said, "It's super satisfying, words can't describe how satisfying it is. This mare is unbelievable, her mother, Not Unusual is a great producer, it was great to get a Grade I win on the page for her. It's very gratifying. She's been such a hard-knocking filly. She's been knocking on the door with Grade 1's, so to pull this out is amazing. She's very easy to train and very straight forward. She makes my job easy. I'm just thrilled for the whole team. My hat goes off to all of the hard work that Starwood Farm does. I want to give a big thank you to Tony Burton, the Farm Manager, and to the whole team out there. This is as big of a win as I've ever had. I haven't had very many Grade 1 wins."
Left: Second place finisher Maxim Rate in the walking ring before the race. The Simon Callaghan trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 0 thirds in 12 starts, earning $282,185 for owners Slam Dunk Racing and James Branham.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Lady Prancealot in the post parade. The Richard Baltas trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 22 starts, earning $640,841 for owners Medallion Racing amd Parkland Thoroughbreds.
United wins the John Henry Turf Championship (G2)
Jockey Flavien Prat sent United to the lead out of the chute through fractions of 24.57, 49.07, 1:13.20, and 1:36.46 while pressed by Salvator Mundi and stalked by 13-2 Next Shares. Turning for home United opened up a 2 length lead through 9f in 1:47.77, cruising the rest of the way to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Originaire in 1:59.17. It was a neck back to 62-1 longest shot Another Mystery third.
Left: United in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "The other day I got trapped on the inside with no pace and I couldn't go anywhere. Today, I decided if he broke well, I would put him in the race. On paper it seemed like there was no speed, so I thought maybe I could try to take the lead. He was traveling well. I loved the way he was galloping and he made a good move as always down the lane. Ever since he ran in the Breeders' Cup, where he was a longshot (51-1), he just keeps moving up. It seems like he's improving a lot and I'm really enjoying what he's doing."
Right: United heads back to the barn. Winning trainer Richard Mandella said, "The other day I got trapped on the inside with no pace and I couldn't go anywhere. Today, I decided if he broke well, I would put him in the race. On paper it seemed like there was no speed, so I thought maybe I could try to take the lead. He was traveling well. I loved the way he was galloping and he made a good move as always down the lane. Ever since he ran in the Breeders' Cup, where he was a longshot (51-1), he just keeps moving up. It seems like he's improving a lot and I'm really enjoying what he's doing."
Left: Second place finisher Originaire in the walking ring before the race. The Jeff Mullins trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 6 seconds, and 5 thirds in 20 starts, earning $308,158 for owner BG Stables.
Right: Third place finisher Another Mystery returns after the race. The Mike McCarthy trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 15 starts, earning $172,880 for owner-breeder Team Block.
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