Kaleem Shah's Dortmund, a competitor at the grade 1 level during all four of his racing seasons, could return to that class of racing Sept. 30 in the $300,000 Awesome Again Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Although Shah and trainer Art Sherman haven't made a definitive decision yet on whether to run the son of Big Brown in the 1 1/8-mile test, Sherman has been pleased with Dortmund's preparations since returning from retirement earlier in the summer.
"He's been a lot better since he's been back," Sherman said after Dortmund worked a mile in 1:41 4/5 Sept. 21 at Los Alamitos Race Course. "Gary (Stevens) worked him today, and said he felt better than he has for a long time."
Dortmund's time with Sherman since moving over from trainer Bob Baffert's barn at the start of the year has been less than ideal. He finished sixth in his 2017 debut—also his first start on turf—in the March 11 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1T) and finished a far-back fourth behind Collected in the April 1 Santana Mile Stakes back on the dirt at Santa Anita. Then came retirement, and his return to training in July.
"He's a lot stronger horse than he was earlier this year," Sherman said. "He needed a little break, and he got it."
Sherman will ship Dortmund to Santa Anita Sept. 25 for some schooling sessions and a short blowout work Sept. 27. He ideally would like to bring the big chestnut back in a softer spot, but those opportunities aren't available for a horse of Dortmund's stature at this time of year.
"He's got no conditions or even an overnight stakes for him, so it's hard to find the right kind of race for him," Sherman said of starting Dortmund back in a grade 1 race. "One of those 'non-winners of a sweepstakes in a year' would have been great."
Sherman also didn't rule out a potential run for Dortmund in the Breeders' Cup World Championships, although he would need to see a substantial effort from the two-time grade 1 winner in the Awesome Again.
"It could be (a possibility)," Sherman said. "I'd have to see a big race."
Dortmund's last victory came in the 2015 Native Diver Stakes (G3) at Del Mar, but he raced against top-level competition throughout his 4-year-old season in 2016, which included hard-trying defeats to the Sherman-trained California Chrome in the San Diego Handicap (G2), $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic Stakes (G1), and the Awesome Again.