NEW YORK (Sept. 26, 2019) – McKinzie, the top-rated horse in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, headlines the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) in an action-packed two-hour live telecast of Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifiers this Saturday, Sept. 28 from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California live on NBCSN, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Saturday’s program marks the ninth of 11 telecasts in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge: Win and You’re In Series – Presented by America’s Best Racing” on NBC and NBCSN from some of America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 36th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1-2 on NBC and NBCSN. Complete series TV schedule can be accessed here: http://www.breederscup.com/challenge-series
NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion led by: Randy Moss, Nick Luck, Laffit Pincay III, Britney Eurton, and Matt Bernier.
The telecast also will include live coverage of the Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, which will give the winner an automatic berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and features “Win and You’re In” qualifiers from Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., and Newmarket Racecourse in Great Britain.
Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, and trained by Bob Baffert, the 4-year-old McKinzie leads the $300,000 1 1/8-mile Awesome Again. The 4-year-old son of 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense has been atop the handicap division for much of the year, supported by his wins in the Alysheba Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs back in May and in the “Win and You’re in” Whitney (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 3. McKinzie will use the Awesome Again as a springboard to the Classic, a race he was a disappointing 12th in last year at Churchill Downs.
McKinzie’s two main challengers in the Awesome Again will be Hronis Racing’s 4-year-old Higher Power and Charles Fipke’s 6-year-old Seeking the Soul. Higher Power is trained by John Sadler, who won last year’s Awesome Again and the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Accelerate. Higher Power has come into his own lately, evidenced by a 5 ¼-length runaway win in the “Win and You’re In” TVG Pacific Classic (G1) in his last start on Aug. 17.
Seeking the Soul, second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, has raced well at longer distances this year. Trained by Dallas Stewart, Seeking the Soul finished second in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) in January, and won the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs in June to earn an automatic bid into the Classic.
Preceding the Awesome Again will be the $300,000 1 ¼ mile-Rodeo Drive, for fillies and mares on turf. The race is led by All Schlaich Stables, Gatto Racing, George Todaro’s defending champion Vasilika. The 5-year-old daughter of Skipshot, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, has won 18-of-34 stats and 13 of 16 since being claimed for $40,000 in February 2018. She has won eight graded stakes. Vasilika won the Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita in May, and captured the John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar by a nose.
Slam Dunk Racing and Medallion Racing’s Beau Recall (IRE) has been in top form all year for trainer Brad Cox, and the 5-year-old daughter of Sire Prancealot (IRE) is the only horse to defeat Vasilika this year, which she did in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes (G2) at Del Mar Aug. 3.
Prior to the Awesome Again, Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., will host the second to last “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Classic with the 1 ¼ mile Jockey Club Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is led by 6-year-old Preservationist, winner of both the Suburban over the Belmont surface and the Woodward at Saratoga last month. Preservationist will be challenged by two 3-year-olds in Code Of Honor, who won the Travers (G1) at Saratoga and Tacitus, who won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the Wood Memorial (G2), and was second in the Travers.
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 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 championship races (13 Grade 1 events and one Grade 2 race) with purses and awards totaling more than $30 million, will be held on November 1-2 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., 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.
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Royal Ascot, and Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown. The 2019 Kentucky Derby posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 16.5 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms – up 10% from last year’s race (15.0 million) featuring eventual Triple Crown winner Justify and marking television’s largest Saturday audience since the NFL Divisional Playoffs (Jan. 12, 2019).