California Chrome faces six from rail post in Awesome Again

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September 28th, 2016

The innermost post proved no impediment in the Pacific Classic (G1) for California Chrome, who flashed forward to lead wire to wire in sensational fashion, and America’s top-ranked horse will break from the rail once again in Saturday’s $300,000 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita. The 2014 Horse of the Year will be an odds-on favorite versus six rivals in the 1 1/8-mile event, which serves as a “Win and You’re In” event for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

California Chrome, North America’s all-time earnings leader with $13,252,650, is line for a $1 million bonus if he sweeps the Pacific Classic-Awesome Again-Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Trained by Art Sherman, California Chrome has compiled a 5-for-5 mark this season, including a smashing 3 ¾-length tally in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1). The California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit registered a career-best 112 BRIS Speed rating posting a five-length decision in the Pacific Classic and regular rider Victor Espinoza will look to work out the right trip.

Dortmund set the pace before finishing a half-length second to California Chrome in the San Diego (G2) two back, but the chestnut 4-year-old didn’t display the same early speed recording an even third-place effort in the Pacific Classic. Bob Baffert adds blinkers to the multiple Grade 1-winning son of Big Brown and Dortmund appears likely to break running from post 2 with jockey Rafael Bejarano.

Baffert will also send out the late-running Hoppertunity, who will attempt to capitalize if the pace is hot. The Grade 1 hero was no factor when fourth in the Pacific Classic, but Hoppertunity captured the San Antonio (G2) at Santa Anita earlier this season and displayed a commendable late kick finishing third in the Dubai World Cup. Flavien Prat rides.

Hard Aces, a Grade 1 scorer at Santa Anita, is another one to consider for a placing from off the pace. He showed little when up the track in the Pacific Classic but did captured the Cougar II (G3) two starts back.  Soi Phet brings a two-race win streak into the Awesome Again but is more effective against lesser company. A pair of massive outsiders, El Huerfano and Win the Space, complete the field.