McKinzie should crush the competition in Awesome Again

The Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is set for Saturday at Santa Anita. A field of six will be tasked with a 1 1/8-mile journey on the main course. Post time for the Awesome Again, Race 10 of 11 on the day, is 8:13 p.m. ET.

#4 MCKINZIE (4-5, morning-line favorite) was an impressive winner of Saratoga’s Whitney Stakes on Aug. 3. He was hand-ridden in the stretch and scored by almost two lengths over multiple Grade I winner Yoshida. MCKINZIE has three wins and three seconds in six career starts at his home base of Santa Anita. The Bob Baffert trainee continues to drill sharply and will once again be ridden by Mike Smith. MCKINZIE is quite imposing in the speed figure department and is probably not worth betting against.

#2 DRAFT PICK (8-1) and #5 MONGOLIAN GROOM (15-1) were separated by just a neck when they crossed the line behind HIGHER POWER in the Pacific Classic. The former, who has trained up to the Awesome Again, gets the nod for second. DRAFT PICK has hit the board in each of his first three starts of 2019 and continues to improve his speed figures gradually. Joe Talamo has the assignment.

MONGOLIAN GROOM was ambitiously spotted in the Woodward based on the quick turnaround time. Rested for a month since that off-the-board effort, the consistent son Hightail is poised to outrun his odds in the Awesome Again. Abel Cedillo will be aboard.

#1 HIGHER POWER (2-1) was last seen running away with Del Mar’s Pacific Classic on Aug. 17. That victory was surprising off his relatively modest turf form and poor showing the Gold Cup at Santa Anita back in May. HIGHER POWER has strong connections in trainer John Sadler and jockey Flavien Prat behind him, but his last-out victory should be taken with a grain of salt. He’s worth playing against at 2-1 or less.

The play: $5 exacta 4/2,5 ($10)

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