ARCADIA, Calif.— Mike Smith has bonded with Royal Ship ever since the Brazilian-bred son of Midshipman came to the United States, having ridden him in each of his 13 starts here, winning three.
The Hall of Fame jockey hopes to enhance that mark when he rides the six-year-old bay gelding trained by Richard Mandella in Saturday’s Grade I Awesome Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.
The $300,000 Awesome Again is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race giving the nominated winner automatic entry into the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland Nov. 5.
“The horse is doing great and Smith certainly suits him,” said Mandella, who has won the Awesome Again four times, with Soul of The Matter (1995), Pleasantly Perfect (2002 and 2003) and Rock Hard Ten (2005).
The Awesome Again goes as race eight of 10 with the following horses lining up:
Azul Coast, Hector Berrios, 20-1; Royal Ship, Mike Smith, 3-1; High Connection, Abel Cedillo, 12-1; Country Grammer, Juan Hernandez, 8-5; Tripoli, Ramon Vazquez, 8-1; Defunded, Edwin Maldonado, 6-1; Express Train, Victor Espinoza, 7-2; and Slow Down Andy, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1.
Santa Anita Park Press Release/Edited
Photo: Mike Smith and Royal Ship after their victory in the Del Mar Handicap (Benoit Photo)
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