Accelerate to Race in Awesome Again, Diversify Leads the Field for Jockey Gold Cup, Part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In, Presented by America’s Best Racing”
NEW YORK (Sept. 27, 2018) – Led by Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders Accelerate in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes and Diversify in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, an outstanding lineup of four live races from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and coverage of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. will be televised this Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The two-hour program is a part of the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – Presented by America’s Best Racing.”
Saturday’s show is the ninth of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: on NBC and NBCSN, featuring 17 “Win and You’re In” races plus other major stakes on the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on NBC and NBCSN from some of America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 35th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs Nov. 2-3 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here:http://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series
In addition to the Awesome Again, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, the program will also include the $300,000 Chandelier Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, with the winner gaining an automatic berth into the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; the $300 Rodeo Drive Stakes for a free berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf and the 6 ½-furlong Unzip Me Stakes, also on the turf.
Santa Anita coverage will also include the $300,000 American Pharoah Stakes for 2-year-olds, which will give the winner an automatic starting position into the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Laffit Pincay III hosts the telecast, and will be joined by analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, reporters Britney Eurton and Nick Luck, and Daily Racing Form Handicapper Matt Bernier.
Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) also will broadcast Breeders’ Cup Challenge action at Belmont Park and Santa Anita on Saturday from 5:00-8:00 p.m. ET on SiriusXM 93 and streaming at www.horseracingradio.net.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Awesome Again are the final “Win and You’re In” qualifiers for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. In the Awesome Again field of six starters, Accelerate, a 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky, owned by Hronis Racing and trained by John Sadler, is the undisputed leader in California off a 4-for-5 record in 2018, including a sweep of the older Grade I handicap races, the Santa Anita Handicap in March, Gold Cup at Santa Anita in May and the “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar August 25, which earned him a bid into the Classic. Accelerate, ridden by Joel Rosario, suffered his lone defeat this year in April’s Oaklawn Handicap (GII) but has been unbeatable of late, as his last two wins have come by a combined 16 ¾ lengths.
The most intriguing challenger to Accelerate is the Bob-Baffert-trained West Coast, last year’s 3-year-old champion and 2017 Travers Stakes winner. Owned Gary and Mary West and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who leads all Breeders’ Cup jockeys with 26 wins, West Coast has not started since finishing second in the Dubai World Cup on March 31. Prior to that, West Coast finished second to Horse of the Year Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup in January, and was third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.
The Rodeo Drive, run at 1 ¼ miles, for fillies and mares, is led by All Schlaich Stable, Gatto Racing and George Todaro’s Vasilika, who is seeking her sixth straight win. The 4-year-old daughter of Skipshot enters off a win in the John C. Mabee on Sept.1 at Del Mar in her graded stakes debut for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina leads the Chandelier Stakes off her back-to-back stakes wins at Del Mar in the Sorrento and most recently, a 4 ¼ length win over the Bob-Baffert trained Mother Mother in the Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 1.
Baffert trained Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. In Saturday’s American Pharoah Stakes (changed this year from the Frontrunner Stakes) for 2-year-olds, Baffert may have the most talented runner for a shot at a free berth into the Sentient Jet Juvenile with Game Winner, unbeaten in two starts, including last month’s Del Mar Futurity.
Belmont Park will host three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on Saturday, headlined by the Jockey Club Gold Cup, which is shaping up as an exciting international battle led by Lauren Evans and Ralph Evans’ defending champion Diversify, who figures to be an odds-on favorite. The New York-bred 5-year-old son of Bellamy Road is a perfect 2-for-2 at the Gold Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic distance of 1 ¼ miles and makes his first start since he dominated Saratoga’s Aug. 4 “Win and You’re In” Whitney (GI) to gain a berth into the Classic. Diversify, who is 10-for-15 lifetime, also won over the track and distance in the Suburban (GII) in July, and shows an imposing 8-6-2-0 record over Belmont’s main track.
Challenging Diversify will be Phoenix Thoroughbreds’ Gronkowski, second in the Belmont Stakes; Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow from Godolphin Racing and Mendelssohn, who won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and finished second in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic will award the winner a free berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. The eight-horse field is led by Convento Viejo’s Robert Bruce, who earned a free berth into the Turf by capturing the Arlington Million, and Spring Quality, who won the Manhattan Stakes at Belmont in June and was third in the Sword Dancer at Saratoga.
Raymond Mamone’s Imperial Hint will likely be an odds-on favorite to secure a free berth in the Twin Spires Breeders’ Cup Sprint as he takes on six rivals in the $350,00 Vosburgh Stakes at six furlongs.
Fans can also get in on the excitement of the Awesome Again by playing The $100,000 Capture the Classic Challenge where participants have the chance to predict the winner for an opportunity to become a virtual owner of the winning horse. By properly selecting the winning horse of the Awesome Again, virtual owners will receive insider access to premium content about their horse(s), such as behind-the-scenes videos and in-depth profiles, as well as a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize should their horse go on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2018 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 races (13 Grade 1 events) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held November 2-3 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
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