Improbable grabbed the No. 1 ranking in Tuesday's National Thoroughbred Racing Association Top Thoroughbred Poll after he defeated Maximum Security in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita on Saturday. Improbable received 28 of the 37 top votes from a panel of media members.
The son of City Zip soundly defeated Maximum Security in the Awesome Again and now has three Grade 1 victories in a row, yet there were still nine media members who felt that he did not deserve the top spot on their ballots. The other No. 1 votes went to Maximum Security (3), Vekoma (3), Tom’s d’Etat (2) and the mare Monomoy Girl (1).
In his three Grade 1 wins, Improbable recorded three of the top nine Beyer Speed Figures for any horse going a distance of more than a mile this year. The Awesome Again victory received a 108, which is second highest behind a 109 from both Tiz the Law and Tom’s d’Etat. Improbable also got a 106 for his victory in the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and a 105 for the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita.
The Awesome Again was a matchup between Bob Baffert’s two best older male dirt horses. Maximum Security came into the race ranked No. 1 and Improbable at No. 5.
“I knew I was coming in here with two really good horses,” said Baffert, who collected his fourth Awesome Again win. “I hate to see my horses have to beat the other horse.”
Maximum Security was part of the early pace which meant he was racing closely in a group of four horses who were separated by only two-lengths and they went the first six furlongs in a fast split of 1:09.79.
“Maximum Security was in that scrum and they were really running up close (together), but he was in between Midcourt and they were just bumping the whole way down the backside,” explained the Hall of Fame trainer.
Improbable, on the other hand, got a perfect trip while sitting some six-lengths behind the leader after a half-mile. Jockey Drayden Van Dyke swung him clear on the outside on the final turn and drew off to an impressive 4 1/2-length victory while geared down nearing the wire.
“I saw Drayden, he knew what was happening, so he just sat back. He rode a great race, he knew what was going on, he took his time, rode him with patience. He’s had good luck with this horse,” noted Baffert.
Along with his No. 1 ranking in the Top Thoroughbred Poll, Improbable became the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland on Saturday, Nov. 7, where the Horse of the Year title will be on the line.
Foreign bookmakers have Improbable best priced as the 9-2 favorite for the Classic followed by the top 3-year-olds Tiz the Law at 5-1 and Authentic at 6-1. Maximum is listed at 8-1 and Tom’s d’Etat is 12-1.
Consensus Top 10
Matt Shifman's Top 10
1. Improbable (28)
2. Maximum Security (3)
2. Maximum Security
3. Vekoma (3)
4. Tom’s d’Etat (2)
4. Tiz the Law
5. Monomoy Girl (1)
5. Tom’s d’Etat
6. By My Standards
6. Monomoy Girl
7. Midnight Bisou
8. Tiz the Law
8. Midnight Bisou
9. By My Standards
10. Rushing Fall