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Awesome Again Stakes Strong Despite Flightline Absence

Six stakes, headlined by the Grade I Awesome Again, dot the 10-race card on Saturday at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Some of the half-dozen races, with four on the turf to include a pair on the downhill course, will serve as the final starts for those horses who will next compete in the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 4 and 5 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.

Country Grammer is the 8-5 morning-line favorite when betting online in the Awesome Again. Country Grammer is one of three in the eight-horse field left in the dust by the undefeated Flightline in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar last month. FanDuel TV provides coverage at the Great Race Place. The first stake is Race 3, the John Henry Turf Championship, at 4:34 p.m. ET.

Awesome Again Stakes Strong Despite Flightline Absence
Awesome Again Stakes Strong Despite Flightline Absence

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Country Grammer Spells Trouble for Seven Rivals

Country Grammer finished second in the Pacific Classic by a mind-boggling 19 lengths. Royal Ship (3-1) was another seven lengths back in third, with Express Train (7-2) one-half length behind Royal Ship. It is hard to imagine any of these turning the tables on Flightline in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but winning the Awesome Again (Race 8, 7:08 p.m. ET) is the next-best thing. Bob Baffert trains four of the eight horses, including Country Grammer, as he tries to win his eighth Awesome Again.

It appears a stalking trip is in store for Country Grammer, who is 4-for-12 lifetime after winning the Dubai World Cup in March. High Connection (12-1), also trained by Baffert, could try to steal it on the front end. Defunded (6-1), another Baffert trainee, and Slow Down Andy (12-1) also have an early foot. Tripoli (8-1) is a threat from well off the pace.

Undercard: D’Amato Loaded On Grass With Nine Entrants

Phil D’Amato trains nine horses who are running in the four stakes races on turf and has the morning-line favorite in the horse racing odds in three. D’Amato conditions three of the six entrants in the John Henry, including favorites Gold Phoenix (2-1) and Masteroffoxhounds (5-2). Gold Phoenix rallied to win his last start, the Del Mar Handicap in September and can do so again with Masteroffoxhounds and Breakpoint (9-2) providing the targets to run down.

Beyond Brilliant (6-5) will try to wire the six-horse field in the City of Hope Mile Stakes on turf (Race 5, 5:38). Cathkin Peak (5-2), trained by D’Amato, outfinished Beyond Brilliant in two of their three meetings, but didn’t win either race. D’Amato also sends out Prince Abama (6-1).

The Santa Anita Sprint Championship (Race 6, 6:08) features the return of Forbidden Kingdom (9-5). The 3-year-old American Pharoah colt was last seen finishing 14 lengths behind Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby in April. The Forbidden Kingdom couldn’t handle 1⅛ miles that day, so trainer Richard Mandella has him back sprinting. Forbidden Kingdom appears to be the speed of the speed, but Kid Corleone (4-1) should also be winging it. CZ Rocket (7-2) is capable of picking up the pieces should the pace prove to be too hot.

The Eddie D. Stakes (Race 7, 6:38) is the first of two downhill turf races at about 6½ furlongs. D’Amato has the favorite in Gregorian Chant (5-2), who closed to finish a close fourth in the 2021 Eddie D. Gregorian Chant is 1-for-2 at this trip. Air Force Red (5-1) loves the downhill course with two wins in two tries against lesser. Air Force Red comes off a fourth-place finish in the Grade II Del Mar Mile and should be scrimmaging for the early lead.

Three of the 10 horses in the Unzip Me Stakes (Race 9, 7:38) have won on the downhill course. Brandon’smylawyer (8-1), Delmona (6-1), and Connie Swingle (3-1) are all speed horses who are capable of prevailing, but the pace could prove to be too hot. If that’s the case, Island of Love (5-1) could mow them down for D’Amato in his maiden voyage down the hill.

Go to the racebook in the minutes leading up to these races to make your wagers.

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