Last weekend, Slow Down Andy arguably gave a career-best effort when he won the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita in gate-to-wire fashion for his first Grade 1 victory.
Now, Slow Down Andy points to the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 4 on the same course, and he could end up overlaid when the betting begins. In the last few months, Slow Down Andy has taken steps toward becoming a legitimate Classic contender, but the public’s money likely will go elsewhere because of the amount of good horses lining up.
Value seekers can see the steps forward in Slow Down Andy’s last three starts.
After fading out of the picture in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park to kick off his campaign, Slow Down Andy came back to life in the San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar in July when he ran second to the improved closer Señor Buscador after chasing a fast pace.
Then in the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar in September, Slow Down Andy made a threatening bid toward Arabian Knight on the far turn, and the two of them came close enough to look each other in the eye. But Slow Down Andy began to flatten out slightly in the stretch. Arabian Knight went on to victory with Geaux Rocket Ride picking up second.
Slow Down Andy did not fade out of the picture and still held third while finishing only 1 1/2 lengths behind Arabian Knight. It was another step forward to becoming a realistic Classic contender.
Last weekend in the Awesome Again, Slow Down Andy let go of the more patient tactics this time and simply went for the lead. With a one-length cushion in hand, Slow Down Andy set legitimate fractions of 22.97, 46.91 and 1:10.59 for the nine-furlong race before receiving a challenge on the approach to the far turn.
Ironically, the challenge came from the Bob Baffert-trained duo of Defunded and National Treasure. Both of them tried to move alongside Slow Down Andy, but as they went faster, Slow Down Andy met the challenge by running faster as well while maintaining a slight cushion.
Slow Down Andy did not struggle to stay ahead of the Baffert pair. He went along in a comfortable manner and began to separate from the Baffert pair in the early part of the stretch. He then ended up maintaining his lead for a 2 1/4-length victory under mild urging.
Defunded held second, while Señor Buscador made another good closing bid for third and National Treasure ended up flattening out to fourth. Skinner also closed decently for fifth, although Señor Buscador's rally outshined him. Skinner did finish more than 10 lengths ahead of the sixth-place horse, which means the good horses separated from the rest of the field.
All four of those names are respectable Grade 1-level horses. Slow Down Andy won the Awesome Again against nice runners.
The fact that Slow Down Andy won his first Grade 1 over the same course as the Breeders’ Cup Classic next month gives him a home-court advantage as well. Dating back to his career debut win, Slow Down Andy owns a notable 3: 2-0-1 record on Santa Anita's dirt course.
Yet Slow Down Andy probably will not receive a ton of attention from bettors during live wagering, and that is mainly because of two reasons.
For one, 3-year-olds Arcangelo, Forte and possibly Mage will attract most of the headlines leading up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Those three runners became stars in the spring and summer, and they will take a significant amount of money from casual bettors.
In addition, the foreign invaders will attract plenty of wagering money, especially with the names lined up this year. The list of possible overseas shippers includes the Japan-based Ushba Tesoro and Derma Sotogake, as well as the European-based Juddmonte International (G1) winner Mostahdaf and Epsom Derby (G1) runner-up King of Steel.
With all those big names pointing toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Slow Down Andy will become forgotten by the racing public even with his home-court win in the Awesome Again and improved effort in the Pacific Classic.
Whether Slow Down Andy will win the Classic is not the point. He could win, but he also might finish in mid-pack. The wagering public just figures to leave him alone above his fair-value price with all the other famous horses showing up, which would make him a tempting overlay.
Keep those points in mind when analyzing this horse next month at Santa Anita. At a minimum, perhaps Slow Down Andy deserves a spot underneath in trifecta and superfecta tickets. But he also could win with good fortune, and if he does, his backers will get paid generously.