Santa Anita Saturday Preview 10/1

Santa Anita Park will host an incredible card this coming Saturday. It’s highlighted by the Awesome Again Stakes and the Zenyatta Stakes, which feature four of the most talented horses in the sport. Both events offer places in the Breeders’ Cup events as part of the challenge series prep race circuit. Heading to Santa Anita for their final warm-ups prior to the world championships are California Chrome, Dortmund, Stellar Wind and Beholder making this a must-see weekend at the California based track.

The main event of Santa Anita’s busy Saturday is undoubtedly the Awesome Again Stakes. The field of seven boasts three absolute studs in the form of California Chrome, Dortmund and Hoppertunity who are the no-brainer choices to finish in the top-three. But the draw has yielded some unexpected drama.

California Chrome will rifle out of the inside rail in hopes of getting past Dortmund, who will start right next to him in the second post. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but the 1 1/8 mile distance offers little room for error. Dortmund is also an imposing figure who could attempt to box California Chrome in or discourage him with some physical contact. The intensity out of the gates at Santa Anita this weekend will be sky high.

Trainer Art Sherman remained confident in his incredible horse. “I think I’ve got the best horse in the country,” Sherman said. “I might be a little prejudiced about it, but, you know, he’s done about everything a horse could do. We’ve travelled all over the country, abroad, and we’ve never ducked anybody, and it’s been a hard journey. He really can’t prove anything more to me. I think right now you’re going to wind up seeing him the rest of the year at his peak.”

California Chrome has beaten Dortmund in back-to-back efforts at the Pacific Classic and the San Diego Handicap. The oddsmakers are suggesting that it will be three consecutive victories. I’m sure that Baffert and Dortmund are expecting a different result this time.

Both are pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita towards the end of the season.

2016 Awesome Again Stakes – Saturday, October 1st at Santa Anita (6:30pm EST)
1 1/8 Miles — 3+ Year Olds — $300,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 California Chrome (CA) Victor Espinoza 125 Art Sherman
2 Dortmund (KY) Rafael Bejarano 121 Bob Baffert
3 Hoppertunity (KY) Flavien Prat 121 Bob Baffert
4 Win the Space (KY) Gary L. Stevens 121 George Papaprodromou
5 Soi Phet (CA) Kent J. Desormeaux 121 Leonard Powell
6 El Huerfano (CA) Martin A. Pedroza 121 Peter Miller
7 Hard Aces (KY) Santiago Gonzalez 121 John W. Sadler

One of the final races of the big card at Santa Anita will see Beholder trying to fend off Stellar wind in the Zenyatta Stakes. The two have faced off before, with the latter beating the former at the Clement Hirsch in an upset. However, Stellar Wind’s trainer was adamant that that victory was no fluke and is beyond excited to see what his emerging four-year old filly has to offer in the rematch.

“It looks like it’s going to be another epic race,” John Sadler quipped. “Stellar Wind has trained really well and hasn’t missed a day or an oat, or anything since her last race, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Beholder lost back-to-back races for the first time in her career over the summer. She also lost to California Chrome at the Pacific Classic. A return to the female-only side of racing might be the confidence booster she needs, but she needs to vanquish her rival to prove she has the competitive spirit to go for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in just over a month’s time.

Stellar Wind will be opting for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at the world championships. This will be the final tune-up for both stars.

The main dark horse in the group is Tara’s Tango, who has gone 3-0-1 this season in four starts.

2016 Zenyatta Stakes – Saturday, October 1st at Santa Anita Park (7:30pm EST)
1 1/16th Miles — 3+ Year Old Fillies & Mares — $300,000

PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 Off the Road (BRZ) Tiago Josue Pereira 121 Richard E. Mandella
2 Beholder (KY) Gary L. Stevens 125 Richard E. Mandella
3 Vale Dori (ARG) Rafael Bejarano 121 Bob Baffert
4 Tara’s Tango (KY) Martin Garcia 123 Jerry Hollendorfer
5 Stellar Wind (VA) Victor Espinoza 125 John W. Sadler

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