Mubtaahij Wins Awesome Again at Santa Anita

Mubtaahij wins the Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita with Drayden Van Dyke aboard. Photo by Terri Keith.

In his first race since the Dubai World Cup just over six months ago, Mubtaahij won the Grade 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita on Saturday for his new trainer, Bob Baffert.

It was the first victory since the Grade 2 UAE Derby in March 2015 for Mubtaahij, who has spent much of his career racing in Dubai with occasional forays to the United States for races including the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont.

Midnight Storm was 1 1/2 lengths behind in second, with longshot Win the Space finishing third.

Mubtaahij paid $8.20 to win, $4.80 to place and $4.20 to show as the bettors’ second choice behind stablemate Cupid, who had a two-race win streak and finished a disappointing fourth for Baffert.

Mubtaahij’s victory, with jockey Drayden Van Dyke aboard, ensured that the 5-year-old son of Dubawi is eligible for a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic as part of the “Win And You’re In” series of races.

He is now joining a group of his highly-regarded stablemates — including Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate, Pacific Classic victor Collected and Pennsylvania Derby winner West Coast — who are also pointing toward the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar in November.

“I don’t even want to jinx myself,” Baffert said of his likely contingent for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“I’ve got a ways to go so I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but it’s a nice problem to have. But, like I said, they have to be training well. They still have to stay healthy,” he said.

Mubtaahij hadn’t raced since finishing fourth to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup on March 25 and had lost his last 10 races. But he was so impressive in his last two works that he deserved a spot in the 1 1/8-mile race, Baffert said.

“He has the class. The horse is a proven really good horse, even from last year. Those races he ran in New York (the Suburban, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup) were pretty strong,” Baffert said of the horse, who had been in the stables of Mike de Kock and Kiaran McLaughlin.

In other Grade 1 races Saturday at Santa Anita:

— Bolt D’Oro’s dominating win by 7 3/4 lengths in the FrontRunner is likely to make him one of the favorites for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

“Well, you know,I’m going to have to get used to it,” trainer-owner Mick Ruis said of the pressure he expects to face as the probable favorite. “I’m usually never the favorite.”

Bolt D’Oro — a son of Medaglia d’Oro — is unbeaten in three starts, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity.

Ruis quipped that he thought he “just got a lot more friends” when talking to Breeders’ Cup representative Jill Byrne about the upcoming event.

— Moonshine Memories also made it three in a row with her win in the Chandelier for 2-year-old fillies.

“You know, definitely there’s some pressure,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the unbeaten daughter of Malibu Moon. “You know when you’re training this type of filly like this, you just feel pressure naturally so I don’t think (it’s) any more pressure. It’s a good position to be in.”

— Paradise Woods — who had disappointing finishes in the Kentucky Oaks and the Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar after winning by nearly 12 lengths in the Santa Anita Oaks — was back to her old form with a 5 1/4-length win in the Zenyatta Stakes.

“I was just worried that something would go wrong again, but it went right,” said Richard Mandella, who trains the 3-year-old filly out of Union Rags. “I couldn’t ask for more than what we had today.”

Mandella returned to the winner’s circle again after Avenge won the Rodeo Drive on turf for the second year in a row.

Avenge, a 5-year-old daughter of War Front, had been winless in her two prior starts this year, with a third-place finish to Lady Eli in the Gamely at Santa Anita in May and a sixth-place finish in the Yellow Ribbon at Del Mar in August.

Horse Bits:

— Mick Ruis wasn’t about to break with tradition after Bolt D’Oro’s spectacular win in the FrontRunner.

“We’re going to McDonald’s because that’s our lucky place after he has a big race,” he quipped.

Ruis said he wanted “an Arrogate-looking horse” when the colt was bought on his behalf last year for $630,000 at the Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.

“I’m not saying he’s even close to an Arrogate, but, you know, he really moves smooth. You can’t even feel when he switches leads,” he said.
— When Bob Baffert was approached by reporters after Mubtaahij’s win in the Awesome Again, he wondered aloud if they wanted to question him about his second-place finish on turf with another of his newest trainees, Goldy Espony, in the Rodeo Drive.

Baffert also had runner-up finishes with Faithfully in the Zenyatta Stakes, Alluring Star in the Chandelier and Solomini in the FrontRunner.

“I knew I was in with two really monster 2-year-olds, but I’m just glad that I picked up one Grade 1 win today,” he said of Mubtaahij.