Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breeders' Cup Hero: Awesome Again

As is the custom on They Are Off when the time comes to herald in the Breeders' Cup in the autumn, I like to take a look back at some great Breeders' Cup moments and horses since the event's inception in 1984. On Thursdays for the next few weeks until this year's running of the Cup at Churchill Downs on November 4 and 5, I will continue that tradition with a look at some Breeders' Cup Heroes.

This week's Breeders' Cup Hero is admittedly a personal favorite. The winner of the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic was Awesome Again (pictured). He defeated a star-studded field of entrants in that Classic including the 1997 Derby and Preakness winner, Silver Charm, the 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Skip Away, and the 1998 Belmont Stakes winner, Victory Gallop. I almost forgot to mention the winner of the 1998 Haskell and Travers, Coronado's Quest, the winner of Europe's Top Older Horse in 1998, Swain. It was as Tom Durkin described in his call of the Classic, "an All-Star field". The win in the Breeders' Cup would conclude an undefeated season in 1998 for Awesome Again, an outstanding year that came on the heels of his winning the most prestigious race in Canada, The Queen's Plate, in 1997. So, you might ask why is Awesome Again a personal favorite of mine? I had selected Awesome Again to win that Breeders' Cup Classic to the derision of my fellow handicappers in Houston who thought he was in over his head and I was elated to see him overtake all those magnificent challengers and win the Classic, giving me sweet revenge when it counted the most.

Awesome Again has proven to be one of the most prolific Sires of the last twenty years also. Just check out the list of phenomenal runners that he has produced: Ghostzapper, Ginger Punch, Awesome Gem, Game On Dude, Wilko, and Round Pond. I think that list qualifies as a near Who's Who of racing since Awesome Again's retirement. In recent days, Awesome Again underwent colic surgery and has returned to Adena Springs following the procedure to recuperate. It is believed that he will be able to continue as a stallion for the 2012 season.

To watch the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic win of Awesome Again, here is the link: Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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