Eddie Maple supplied the patience and Awad delivered the kick, driving hard from off the pace to win the Arlington Million in record time.
Awad, the fourth choice at nearly 6-1 Sunday, pulled away for a 2 1/4-length victory over favored Sandpit. He completed the 1 1/4-mile turf race in 1:58 3-5, shaving one-fifth of a second off the course mark set in 1982 by Perrault.
Having won the Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds in 1993, Awad became the first horse to win both Grade I events at Arlington International Racecourse.
Awad earned the ownership group from Maryland’s Ryehill Farm $600,000, boosting his 1995 earnings to more than $1 million and his lifetime mark to about $1.8 million. He paid $13.80, $4.80 and $4.20.
Maple has been riding Awad all year. What makes him such an effective jockey for the horse?
“Three words: patience, patience, patience,” trainer David Donk said. “A lot of people could ride this horse and get a little bit too itchy and move too soon. There’s no instructions to Eddie. The only thing I say to him is if we get there, we get there and if we don’t, we don’t.”
Awad got there after spending most of Sunday near the back of the 11-horse field. A mile into the race, he was still in eighth place. Staying on the outside around the turn, he blew past the field at the top of the stretch.
“I didn’t ask him to run until the eighth pole,” Maple said. “When I reached and smacked him the first time, he hit another gear. He just kind of went ‘Voooop,’ and I said, ‘Here we go!’ ”
Is Awad the Mercedes of turf horses? Despite Sandpit’s loss, jockey Corey Nakatani feels his mount is the class of the field.
“I couldn’t get him outside, and I couldn’t let him run,” Nakatani said. “I just hope I didn’t cost him the Eclipse Award for turf horses.”
In Sunday’s $400,000 Secretariat Stakes, held two races after the Million, Hawk Attack held off Mecke’s stretch drive to win by a head.
Hennessy, ridden by Gary Stevens, won his third consecutive stakes race, coming from just off the pace to capture the $200,000 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga by 3 1/4 lengths.
Hennessy covered seven furlongs on a fast track in 1:23:2 to earn $120,000 for Robert and Beverly Lewis. His previous stakes victories were the Hollywood Juvenile Championship at Hollywood Park and the Sapling at Monmouth.