Breeders' Cup® Challenge Series: Awesome Again Stakes Recap

By Victoria Barnett | September 28, 2015

The Breeders’ Cup "Win and You're In" Challenge Series continued last Saturday with the Awesome Again Stakes, as Smooth Roller beat out 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern. Bayern, who entered the race at 5-1 odds, took the early lead but couldn’t keep it in the stretch.

Jockey Tyler Baze kept Smooth Roller behind pace-setting Bayern before he took charge on the far turn and cruised to the front. The four-year-old gelding went the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.08 to win his first Grade I race in this graded stakes debut. Hopportunity finished second followed by Bayern in third.

“This is his fourth race and from the very beginning Victor told me he could really run and he proved it. I worked him last week and ever since I’ve been on him down at Del Mar he’s turned into a monster work horse in the morning; he really wants to do it. Last week, Victor wasn’t here, he was at the Keeneland Sale. He called and told me to go seven eighths in 1:28. I literally breezed him in 1:25. I called him and told him ‘that’s as easy as he wants to go and he did it the right way.’”

Smooth Roller was bred to be able to go the distance in races. He is the son of Hard Spun, who finished second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby. He’s also out of an unraced Unbridled mare. Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic, and finished second in the Preakness Stakes.


Trainer Victor Garcia had a few words to say about the race as well.

“I expected him to run big. He had a lot of trouble in his last race. He was washed out, stumbled from the gate, was four or five wide both turns and only got beat a length and one-quarter. I worked the horse twice and he worked real good. Tyler was real happy with it. We’ll go to the Breeders’ Cup (Classic), absolutely.”

Smooth Roller’s win in the Awesome Again Stakes earns him an automatic spot in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic where he will join American Pharoah, Beholder, Hard Aces and Honor Code. Noble Bird, who won the Stephen Foster Handicap, is out of training due to injury and will not be competing in this year’s Breeders’ Cup.

Watch the recap below!

Image courtesy of Breeders' Cup

How the Breeders’ Cup® Works

There are a few different ways to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup. The first is by winning a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series consists of 78 stakes races. Winning one of these races automatically earns you entry into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup Championship race and also waives entry and starting fees.

There is a total of seven challenge races for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the sixth of which was the Awesome Again Stakes. The next Breeders’ Cup Challenge for the Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park on October 3.  

The second way to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup is based on a points system, where horses are ranked based on their performance in major races during the year. Points are awarded based on the race quality and then by win, place and show (first, second and third place finishes). Take a look at the scale below:





Grade 1




Grade 2




Grade 3




The third way to gain entry to the Breeders’ Cup is to be selected by a panel of experts. For each Breeders’ Cup Championship race, there are a maximum of 14 horses selected. Seven of those horses qualify through Challenge races or the points system. Seven are selected by experts. The reasoning for this method of qualifying is to ensure the highest quality of competition for each of the races.

Attend the 2015 Breeders’ Cup®

We already know Hard Aces, American Pharoah, Honor Code, Beholder and now Smooth Roller have earned automatic spots in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Who else will join alongside?

With an Official Ticket Package direct from Breeders’ Cup and QuintEvents, you can be there to witness the action of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup! Get an unbeatable experience that includes tickets, hospitality, exclusive insider extras and much more. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to head to the heart of the Bluegrass State in October and see some of the best horses compete at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup!

Go to the 2015 Breeders' Cup!