Maximum Security winning TVG Pacific Classic Eclipse Sportswire photo
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series kicks into high gear this weekend, as 11 automatic qualifiers for racing’s World Championships will be run, with Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, Calif., hosting seven on its Opening Weekend. The “Win and You’re In” action is not only coast-to-coast, with Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.hosting one race, but it’s a global affair as well, as Newmarket in Suffolk, England, and Hipodromo da Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil also get in on the action.
Air quality concerns due to the wildfires that broke out in the mountains above Santa Anita postponed the meet opener one week to this Friday, which means things will start off on a fevered pitch, as three of the seven “Win and You’re In” races are Grade 1’s. The highlight will be Saturday’s $250,000 Awesome Again (G1), which will award the winner an automatic starting berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic(G1). The five-horse field is headlined by Gary and Mary West and the Coolmore conglomerate of Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Mrs. John Magnier’s Maximum Security.
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the Awesome Again will mark Maximum Security’s third start for trainer Bob Baffert since being transferred from Jason Servis’ barn. The 4-year-old son of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile(G1) winner New Year’s Day won the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar in July and earned a free berth into the Classic when he won the “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (G1) Aug. 22.
Maximum Security is 10-for-12 lifetime, including a win in the inaugural Saudi Cup (G1) at King Abdulaziz Racecourse in February, and figures to be odd-on for the race. Maximum Security’s price won’t be as short as initially thought however, as Baffert decided to run WinStar Farm, CHC Inc.and SF Racing’s Improbable, who would be odds-on himself, if not for his stablemate.
The 4-year-old son of City Zip rates just a notch below his more heralded barn mate, as he qualified for the Classic when he won Saratoga’s “Win and You’re In” Whitney (G1) Aug.1, to go along with the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita in June. Improbable, who was fifth in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last year at Santa Anita, is 6-for-13 lifetime.
C R K Stable’s Midcourt was second to Maximum Security in the San Diego and third in the Pacific Classic, and will try him again for trainer John Sheriffs. The 5-year-old son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint(G1)winner Midnight Lute is 5-for-13 lifetime and won the local San Pasqual (G2) in February.
Sleepy Eyes Todd enters off a dominant 7 ½-length win in the Charles Town Classic (G2) on Aug. 28. The field is completed by California-bred TAKE THE ONE O ONE, who captured a 1-mile allowance optional claiming race at Del Mar in his last start on Aug. 22.