Stronach Stables' homebred Something Awesome came to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on a roll, Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado arrived on a mission, and the two brought home the money April 21 in the $1.2 million Charles Town Classic Stakes (G2).
Primarily a sprinter through most of his career, the 7-year-old Awesome Again gelding found a new dimension in March, when he was asked to go nine furlongs for the first time in the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes at Laurel Park. Although he'd never won going more than seven furlongs, a 2 1/4-length score in the Harrison Johnson solidified his connections' decision to aim for the Charles Town jackpot. The win was his fourth from his past five outings.
"I knew by pedigree he could get the distance," trainer Jose Corrales said.
Something Awesome is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Dance Floor mare Somethinaboutlaura, a California-bred whose exploits ranged from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. Awesome Again is the sire of several classic-distance performers, including three-time Charles Town Classic runner Game On Dude, who won the 2013 edition and ran second in 2011 and 2014.
"It's been pretty much just go with the flow, and not much has changed," Corrales said of stretching the gelding out. "He's a very athletic horse, so I think he can handle just about any kind of track."
Prado piloted Something Awesome to victory in the Feb. 17 General George Stakes (G3) going seven furlongs for the gelding's first graded win, and he was aboard for the stretch-out in the Harrison Johnson. They made it three-for-three together when he set the bay runner down Saturday for a closing drive.
"It was beautiful. He sat right behind the speed," Prado said. "He was kind of anxious at the beginning. He wanted to go after the leaders early, so I kind of took my time and tucked right behind horses, and I waited a little bit longer."
The pace was set by 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) winner Diversify, who was sent off as the 6-5 choice in a seven-horse field for his season debut. Given the green light by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. out of the gate, Diversify took command and put up opening fractions of :24.34 and :48.48 while stalked by Afleet Willy. Prado kept Something Awesome ready to rumble in sixth as Afleet Willy took over through three-quarters in 1:13.16 and shifted his mount out for a three-wide move around the final turn.
"Right around the three-sixteenths pole, he gave me a good feeling," Prado said. "He was moving forward … and, luckily, we got the job done."
War Story also mounted a bid between horses under Javier Castellano and hooked up with Something Awesome for an exciting stretch run, even heading the eventual winner briefly in their battle to the line. But Something Awesome lunged back just in time to edge War Story by a neck. It was a length back to Fear the Cowboy, who rallied for third. Afleet Willy, You're to Blame, Discreet Lover, and Diversify completed the order of finish behind a final time of 1:50.84.
Something Awesome returned $20.60, $6, and $5.80 at odds of 9-1. He improved his career earnings to $1,082,051, with a 9-2-6 record from 24 starts. He has won three of four starts this year, along with a third.
Prado, 50, is closing in on a major career milestone with 6,992 wins. Only seven North American riders have won more races, and they are all retired.
"I'm very excited, very happy, and very thankful for the opportunity," Prado said. "I can't thank Mr. Corrales, The Stronach Group, all the connections enough. It's been a thrill. I'm very blessed to have this great opportunity this late in my career."
Video: Charles Town Classic S. (G2)
Also on the Saturday card at Charles Town, Al and Michelle Crawford Racing's Delta Bluesman romped by seven lengths in the 4 1/2-furlong Caixa Eletronica Stakes. It was the 8-year-old Wagon Limit gelding's 13th win from 56 starts.