News and STORIES

McKinzie, Higher Power Face Off in Awesome Again Stakes

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday September 26, 2019
Two of the top older horses in the country, McKinzie and Higher Power, are set to face off on Saturday at Santa Anita Park. They will both be running in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1). The race is a prep for the Longines Breeders' Cup Classic, which runs at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. 

McKinzie and Higher Power have both qualified for the Classic after winning Breeders' Cup Challenge Series prep races this year. Seeking the Soul, who will also be running in the Awesome Again Stakes, qualified for the Classic after being runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile last year. 

Higher Power qualified for the event by winning the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) at Del Mar on Aug. 17, while Seeking the Soul made it by winning the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on June 15. McKinzie took the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 3 to qualify. 

McKinzie Could Be Favorite For The Classic

If McKinzie crosses the line first at the Awesome Again, he will probably be the favorite going into the Classic. Higher Power would stake his spot among the top older racing horses with a win on Saturday. 

There is the potential for an upset with some of the horses in the field, which could complicate the West Coast divisions. Horses such as Code of Honor, Preservationist, Yoshida, and Vino Rosso could be major players for the Classic. 

The Awesome Again runs at 1 1/8 miles on the Santa Anita main track. 

McKinzie and Higher Power's Racing Careers

The 4-year-old McKinzie, a Street Sense colt, has been racing for three years. In each of those years, he has been a grade 1 winner. 

McKinzie has had his best year in 2019, with total earnings of $1,152,560 for owners Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. On top of winning the Whitney Stakes, he also took the Alysheba Stakes Presented by Sentient Jet (G2) at Churchill Downs on May 3. 

McKinzie placed second in the San Pasqual Stakes (G2), the Santa Anita Handicap Presented by San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino (G1), and the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1). 

"I think Mike's got him really figured out now," trainer Bob Baffert said. "He's a horse that he can put him wherever he wants."

Higher Power had a big showing in the Pacific Classic in what became his biggest payday for owner Hronis Racing. The winner's share of that race was $600,000. He brought in $200,648 from the 12 previous starts. 

Higher Power, the Medaglia D'Oro colt and half brother to Oaklawn Handicap (G2) Alternation, was purchased for $250,000 by Lane's End Bloodstock from the Stidham Racing consignment at the Keeneland April Horses of Racing Age Sale.

He finished second in the Wickerr Stakes on turf at Del Mar on July 21, took an allowance race on grass at Santa Anita on June 14, and crossed the line fifth in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Stakes (G1) on May 27. 

"He came out of the Pacific Classic really well — his energy is fabulous," trainer John Sadler said. "So rather than wait for the Breeders' Cup Classic, we're going to prep right here at Santa Anita, similar to what we did with Accelerate last year."

The rest of the field for the Awesome Again includes Draft Pick, Mongolian Groom, and Isotherm. 

The post time for the race, a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event, is 5 pm PT. It will be the 10th race on an 11-race card. Some of the races on that card include the graded John Henry Turf Championship (G2T) and Rodeo Drive Stakes (G1T).