Bob Baffert will send the leading Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) contenders on the West Coast, Maximum Security and Improbable, to Saturday’s $300,000 Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita. They top a five-horse field in the 1 1/8-mile race, which will award an expenses-paid trip to the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland.
Seven stakes will be offered on the dynamite 11-race program. The $300,000 American Pharoah (G1) for 2-year-olds and $200,000 Chandelier (G2) for 2-year-old fillies are also “Win & You’re In” events for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Juvenile Fillies (G1), respectively. And both races serve as qualifiers for next year’s Kentucky Derby (G1) and Oaks (G1).
After being transferred to Baffert, champion 3-year-old male Maximum Security returned from a five-month freshening with a nose win in the San Diego H. (G2) at Del Mar in late July. The 4-year-old colt came back four weeks later with an improved effort in the Aug. 22 Pacific Classic (G1), drawing off convincingly in the stretch to a three-length decision, and the Kentucky-bred son of New Year’s Day has finished first in his last six starts.
Luis Saez returns to the saddle after a two-race absence, and Maximum Security will break from the far outside post.
Improbable enters in stellar form. A 3 1/4-length romper in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita, the 4-year-old colt followed with an easy two-length tally in the Aug. 1 Whitney (G1) at Saratoga. Improbable recorded outstanding 108 and 104 Brisnet Speed ratings for those efforts. The chestnut son of City Zip should show speed from post 2, and Drayden Van Dyke retakes the mount.
Sleepy Eyes Todd ships in from his Lone Star Park base after posting a 7 1/2-length, wire-to-wire victory in the Aug. 28 Charles Town Classic (G2). That marked the first graded win for the gray 4-year-old, and Umberto Rispoli will take the assignment aboard the front-runner for Miguel Silva.
Grade 2 winner Midcourt, third in the Pacific Classic, and last-out allowance scorer Take the One O One complete the field.
Spielberg has finished a clear second to Dr. Schivel in his first two outings, including the Sept. 7 Del Mar Futurity (G1) most recently, and the Baffert-trained colt should appreciate getting away from that rival in the American Pharoah. A chestnut son of Dixie Union, Spielberg will stretch to two turns with new rider Saez in the 1 1/16-mile race, which will award a total of 17 points (10-4-2-1 scale) as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, and he faces seven rivals.
Weston, who won his first two starts including the Best Pal (G2) at Del Mar, must be respected following a third in the Del Mar Futurity. Ryan Hanson trains the gelded son of Hit a Bomb, and Van Dyke rides. Get Her Number will switch to the main track for Peter Miller after a close third in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf S., and Flavien Prat guides the speedy son of Dialed In. Last-out maiden winners Waspirant and Notable Expectations are also part of the mix.
In the 1 1/16-mile Chandelier, Princess Noor will be prohibitive favorite against four foes. The 2-year-old daughter of freshman sire Not This Time was purchased for $1.35 million at the OBS 2-year-old sale earlier this year, and the Baffert trainee has performed brilliantly as an odds-on favorite in a pair of starts. Princess Noor won geared down at first asking by a 2 1/2-length margin, and the dark bay exits a spectacular 6 1/2-length triumph in the Sept. 6 Del Mar Debutante (G1). Regular rider Victor Espinoza has the call.
Baffert will also send out Varda, a $700,000 daughter of Distorted Humor who rolled to a 3 1/4-length win at first asking, and Del Mar Debutante third-placer Illumination.