Baffert Runs One-Two As Defunded Controls Pace And Defeats Country Grammer In Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again
BAFFERT RUNS ONE-TWO AS DEFUNDED CONTROLS PACE AND DEFEATS COUNTRY GRAMMER BY 1 ¾ LENGTHS IN GRADE I, $300,000 AWESOME AGAIN
RACE IS A BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN & YOU’RE IN’ CHALLENGE RACE QUALIFIER
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2022)—Bob Baffert, sidelined earlier in the year with a 90-day suspension, proved yet again that he is very much “back” as he collected his record eighth win in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita with longshot Defunded. Ridden by Edwin Maldonado, Defunded, made every pole a winning one and held easily defeated his heavily favored stablemate Country Grammer by 1 ¾ lengths, giving Baffert the exacta. A 4-year-old gelding by Dialed In, Defunded got a mile and one eighth in 1:49.38.
A Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge Race qualifier, the Awesome Again win thus provides Defunded with a fees-paid berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland Nov. 5.
Large and in charge through splits of 22.67, 46.70, 1:10.89 and 1:36.06, Defunded, ridden for the first time by Maldonado, never looked a loser in providing the veteran rider with his first career Grade I victory. Most recently a tiring sixth in the Grade II Pat O’Brien Stakes going seven furlongs, Defunded was off at 5-1 in a field of eight 3-year-olds and up and paid $12.00, $4.60 and $3.40.
Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Defunded, who collected his first-ever graded stakes win, is now 12-4-3-1 overall and with the winner’s share of $180,000, he increased his earnings to $518,100.
Although he never threatened the winner, Country Grammer kept to his task late and was game in overhauling Slow Down Andy for the place. Off at even money under Juan Hernandez, Country Grammer paid $3.00 and $2.40.
Slow Down Andy, who sat second nearly the entire trip, was off at 14-1 under Mario Gutierrez and paid $4.40 to show