Accelerate should ace Awesome Again

The Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes pits six of California’s top older horses in a 1 1/8-mile trip around the main oval at Santa Anita. It goes as the 11th race on a stakes-rich 12-race program; post time is 8 p.m. EST. Extra points are on the line in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game, so study carefully!

#6 ACCELERATE (3-5, morning-line favorite) couldn’t have been more impressive in the Pacific Classic when last seen. He won by a dozen lengths and was never asked for his best from Joel Rosario. ACCELERATE loves Santa Anita (11-3-3-4) and relishes the nine-furlong trip (3-2-1-0), so he’s very tough to side against. Rosario, who once again makes the trip west, should have ACCELERATE well-spotted off SHADES OF VICTORY and PRIME ATTRACTION.

#5 WEST COAST (7-5) has been missing since finishing second in the Dubai World Cup back in March. The Bob Baffert trainee appears to be rounding into form based on his recent works, but the two-time Triple Crown-winning conditioner has told all who will listen that WEST COAST is only about “80 percent” cranked for the Awesome Again. With the Breeders’ Cup Classic being the obvious goal, Mike Smith will probably not go too hard on his mount and settle for second if ACCELERATE begins to pull away. WEST COAST has missed the exacta only once in his 11-race career, and is 3-2-1-0 over this course.

#3 PRIME ATTRACTION (10-1) is the best option for third. He should be close to the pace under Kent Desormeaux and may have enough to hold onto an in-the-money finish. He’s been no match for the top choice this year but has grabbed second (San Pasqual) and third (Pacific Classic) behind him in 2018.

The play: $10 exacta 6/5

DFJ analysis: Flavien Prat looks like a must-have on opening Saturday at Santa Anita. He rides in 10 of the day’s 12 races, and just one of his mounts is above 6-1. Prat’s key rides include Gunmetal Grey in the American Pharoah, Bellafina in the Chandelier, and Vasilika in the Rodeo Drive.

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