by Jeremy Plonk
September 28, 2020
Each Monday, I’ll select my Most Valuable Pony from the previous week’s racing action around the country. Who won the week? It could be a breakout performer, a known stakes commodity or the horse lifting the most loot. Chime in on Twitter @Xpressbet with your thoughts on who should be each week’s MVP.
September 21-27, 2020
Owner: WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and SF Racing LLC
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Performance: In a stable showdown with Maximum Security in the Sept. 26 Grade 1 Awesome Again, Improbable dominated Santa Anita’s top autumn race in the handicap division. The 4-year-old cruised to a 4-1/2 length victory in 1:49.01 while never in doubt from the top of the stretch home. If there’s any hesitation about this last-to-first victory, it was that the race shape set up with a fast-early, slow-late tempo.
On Tap: The Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 7 at Keeneland will be next so long as Improbable is healthy. The son of City Zip figures to be one of the favorites and has vaulted himself into the Horse of the Year discussion with victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup, Whitney and Awesome Again. Last year, Improbable was fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at the end of a tough sophomore campaign. He’s fresher in 2020 and proven over the Classic distance in the Gold Cup.
Honorable Mentions: Oklahoma-bred legend Welder added a feather to his impressive cap Sept. 26 when he rallied late to win the Remington Park Turf Sprint. It was the first grass attempt for the 7-year-old millionaire, and resulted in his 23rd win from 35 lifetime starts. Shared Sense also made noise at Remington Park last week, winning the Sept. 27 Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby in very handy fashion. The Brad Cox trainee added to his Grade 3 Indiana Derby score this summer. At Santa Anita on Sept. 26, United and Princess Noor delivered as heavy favorites in the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship and the Grade 2 Chandelier Stakes. Both head to the Breeders’ Cup, in the Turf and Juvenile Fillies divisions, as horses to watch.