All attention was focused on Santa Anita this past Saturday for the Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes 2022.
Not only just a prestigious prize but the winner would be guaranteed an entry into this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. Here is what happened.
Awesome Again Stakes 2022
Grade 1, 1 mile and 1 furlong, open to horses aged three and over. Total prize pool $300,000. Winner gains entry into The Breeders’ Cup Classic.
- Defunded +500
- Country Grammer +110
- Slow Down Andy +145
Bob Baffert was looking to extend his record as the race’s leading trainer and he looked to have a pair of strong options in both Country Grammer and Defunded.
Country Grammer was the favorite for this race following his second-place finish in the Pacific Stakes to the all-conquering Flightline. However, it was Baffert’s second string that got off to the perfect start.
Flying out of the gates, Defunded was allowed to go on and set the fractions. With the rest of the field expecting Defunded to come back to them, jockey Edwin Maldonado had different ideas.
With the race in his grip, Maldonado made his move turning for home. It looked like he had pushed the button too early as two furlongs out he was pressured by his more esteemed stable mate and Slow Down Andy. Asking for more, Maldonado got the response he was looking for, and Defunded dug deep.
Finding extra, he outfought Country Grammer who despite lunging late was never able to come to terms with the winner.
Country Grammer’s finishing surge saw him edge out Slow Down Andy into third.
The win for Defunded was Baffert’s eighth success in the race. Defunded will now take his place in the Breeders’ Cup Classic where the heavy favorite will be Flightline.
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