Awesome Strong Sweeps to Victory in $400,000 In Reality
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile May be Next for FSS Champion
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - CSLR Racing Partners Awesome distinguished himself as the 10th horse to sweep the colts and geldings division of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series Saturday at Gulfstream Park, notching a testing victory in the $400,000 In Reality.
The In Reality, the 1 1/16-mile final for the colts and geldings division of the series for juveniles sired by accredited Florida stallions, co-headlined Saturday’s FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes program with the $400,000 My Dear Girl, the 1 1/16-mile finals for the fillies division in which Atomically foiled Lynx’s bid to sweep the fillies division two races earlier.
“I feel like I’m on Cloud 9,” trainer Jorge Delgado said. “I’m happy to join the names of the trainers that swept the series, knowing how hard it is to do. Earlier on the card, the filly that was the favorite, lost. Things can happen and another horse can come in and beat you.”
Awesome Strong was sent to post as the 4-5 favorite in a field of 12 after dominating the first two legs of the FSS series, the $100,000 Dr. Fager at six furlongs and the $200,000 Affirmed at seven furlongs. The son of Awesome Slew was somewhat slow away from the starting gate from his No. 8 post and was forced to race wide on the first turn while sandwiched between horses. Apocalypso showed the way along the backstretch, setting fractions of 22.56 and 46 seconds for the first half mile while chased by Diamond Cool, Commandant and Turbo with Awesome Strong starting to advance on the far outside.
Awesome Strong made a sweeping move on the far turn to engage Apocalypso on the turn into the homestretch before sprinting clear at the top of the stretch under Miguel Vasquez. Apocalypse dropped back as 70-1 longshot Tigre made a strong bid along the rail, but Awesome Strong held gamely to prevail by 1 ½ lengths.
“I wasn’t happy with the post position, but you can’t change that. He overcame that. Miguel did a fantastic job. The horse always shows up and comes through,” Delgado said. “The horse lost some ground on the first turn and had to race wide. The whole race he had to race wide. He overcame that and still had something left to win the race.”
Awesome Strong ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.58 with his fourth victory without defeat while pulling off the series sweep.
Smile was the first to sweep the colts and geldings division of the FSS series in 1984. Naked Greed (1991), Seacliff (1995), Sir Oscar (2003), Express Tour (2000), Big Drama (2008), Jackson Bend (2009), Fort Loudon (2011) and Three Rules (2016) have also swept the series.
“He proved he can rate,” Vasquez said. “I wanted to get him closer to the back and let him make his run.”
Tigre, who had finished third in the Armed Forces on Tapeta only seven days earlier, finished 3 ¾ lengths ahead of Knox.
Awesome Strong debuted impressively at Gulfstream May 6 at Gulfstream, breaking free of traffic on the turn to score by six lengths, completing 4 ½ furlongs in a swift 51.62 seconds. CSLR Ranch Partners’ Bill Childs and son Alex Childs took notice and proceeded to purchase him for $500,000, agreeing to the steep price tag knowing that the son of Awesome Slew was eligible for the lucrative FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series.
Awesome Strong came back to dominate the Aug. 5 Dr. Fager. Away from the gate alertly, he set a solid pace along the backstretch and far turn before drawing clear in the stretch by 4 ¾ lengths in the six-furlong first leg of the Florida Sire Stakes. He became eligible for his series sweep in the Sept 3 Affirmed at seven furlongs with a three-lengths victory after closely stalking the pace and drawing clear in the stretch.
Saturday’s sweep had left open the possibility of Awesome Strong returning in the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland.
“We talked about if he can do it here, possibly we go to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland and run there,” Alex Childs said. “We don’t want to strain on him. But if he can come back good, we may give it a shot.”