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Jeranimo won the Eddie Read Stakes (above) on the grass in July at Del Mar. He will make his first start on dirt on Saturday in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita Park. (Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates)

By Ellis Starr – National Racing Analyst for Equibase

The Grade 1, $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes (formerly the Goodwood Stakes) at Santa Anita offers the winner an automatic entry in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in five weeks and as such has garnered a field of 10 runners with high hopes. One of two horses that lead the field in terms of graded stakes efforts is Jeranimo, with the caveat that his two wins this year came on the grass in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes and the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes. Next in terms of prominence is Mucho Macho Man, a fan favorite who finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita but who is winless in his last five races. Paynter won his 2013 debut in July after a long layoff and recovery from illness. He then finished second in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap before regressing on a sloppy track in the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes, so he has every right to rebound to competitive form. Golden Ticket won the non-graded Prairie Meadows Handicap at the end of July and could be nearing the form that saw him finish in a dead heat for the win in last year's Grade 1 Travers Stakes. Like Jeranimo, Summer Hit has done his best running on other surfaces recently, but he is four for seven in 2013, including a victory in the Grade 3 All American Stakes in May. Liaison hasn't done much in two recent stakes tries but did win the Grade 2 Mervyn Leroy Handicap in May, so he is another that with a rebound could have a say in the outcome. Chief Havoc won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes in July at this distance against 3-year-olds only and is attempting to prove himself against older horses at this level. Soi Phet and You Know I Know are both trying stakes competition for the first time and, although they both have won recently, appear a bit overmatched. Take Control rounds out the field, returning in this Grade 1 race following 14 months on the bench. The Awesome Again is perhaps a bit of an undertaking for Take Control considering he has only run three times and his best previous finish in a stakes was a third-place effort in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap in 2012. 

Jeranimo has never run on a conventional dirt track like the one at Santa Anita but as a graded stakes winner on both turf and all-weather surfaces there is every expectation that will not be an issue, particularly with a swift half-mile workout recently on the track. Finding 1 ¼ miles too far recently when ninth in the Pacific Classic Stakes, Jeranimo can return to the form shown when winning the Eddie Read Stakes at this 1 1/8-mile distance on turf in July. Looking back at his superb career, in which he has won 10 of 36 races and earned $1.4 million, it must be noted that Jeranimo also won the 2010 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita (when the surface was all-weather) at the distance of the Awesome Again. With his Eddie Read Stakes and San Gabriel Stakes efforts earning 109 Equibase Speed Figures this year, Jeranimo appears to be capable of victory in this race.


Jeranimo Inside

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Paynter may not have cared for the sloppy surface in last month's Woodward Stakes so I am going to draw a line through that effort and assume he is going to rebound to the form shown just before that when second, beaten a half-length after leading late in the San Diego Handicap. Having earned a 115 Equibase Speed Figure in the San Diego and a 119 figure prior to that in his comeback race following 11 months off, Paynter should rebound to the top form that saw him miss by a neck in the 2012 Belmont Stakes before winning the Haskell Invitational Stakes.

Golden Ticket may not have beaten much in July when victorious in the Prairie Meadows Handicap but he did so with authority by eight lengths with a 111 Equibase Speed Figure that bodes well for another top effort in the Awesome Again. Having shown top form against some of the best runners in the country last summer when finishing on even terms with Alpha in the 2012 Travers Stakes, Golden Ticket has matured nicely as a 4-year-old. Additionally, Golden Ticket proved himself at this level already once this year when second in the Stephen Foster Handicap behind 2012 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Fort Larned.

The rest of the field (with their best representative Equibase Speed Figure): Chief Havoc (105), Liaison (112), Mucho Macho Man (119), Soi Phet (102, Summer Hit (110), Take Control (103) and You Know I Know (110).


My Selections:



Golden Ticket

$250,000 Awesome Again Stakes

Race 10, 8:30 p.m. ET

3-year-olds and older, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)







Liaison (KY)

Rafael Bejarano


Bob Baffert


Golden Ticket (KY)

Joe Talamo


Ken McPeek


Soi Phet (CA)

Irving Orozco


Leonard Powell


Jeranimo (FL)

Corey Nakatani


Michael Pender


You Know I Know (KY)

Julien Leparoux


John Sadler


Take Control (KY)

Rosie Napravnik


Bob Baffert


Paynter (KY)

Martin Garcia


Bob Baffert


Chief Havoc (KY)

Garrett Gomez


Peter Miller


Summer Hit (CA)

Edwin Maldonado


Jerry Hollendorfer


Mucho Macho Man (FL)

Gary Stevens


Kathy Ritvo


Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

Image Description

Ellis Starr

National Racing Analyst for Equibase, Fan Education Specialist, Bettor, Magister of Equine Prognostication (Handicapper).

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