By Gulfstream Pass Staff – CSLR Racing Partners’ Awesome Strong remained undefeated Saturday at Gulfstream Park while capturing the $200,000 Affirmed, the second leg of the FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes Series, in convincing fashion.
The Affirmed, a seven-furlong open division of the lucrative series for 2-year-olds sired by accredited stallions standing in Florida, coheadlined Saturday’s program with the $200,000 Susan’s Girl, a seven-furlong sprint for fillies.
Awesome Strong, who overcame early trouble to capture his debut by six lengths in May before being purchased by his current partnership for $500,000, entered the Affirmed coming off a front-running 4 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 Dr. Fager, the six-furlong first leg of the FSS series Aug. 6.
The 4-5 favorite was outgunned for the early lead Saturday by Gran Slash and Undalay, who set contested fractions of 21.84 and 44.89 seconds for the first half-mile stalked by the son of Awesome Slew. Having to restrain Awesome Strong to race behind the pacesetters on the backstretch, Miguel Vasquez allowed his mount to sweep by his tiring rivals to take the lead on the turn into the homestretch. The favorite quickly opened a clear lead at the top of the stretch and continued on to win comfortably by three lengths.
“Miguel told me that the toughest thing for him was to hold the horse, because he wanted to jump on them,” Delgado said. “That wasn’t the plan. We didn’t want to go with them.”
Awesome Strong ran seven furlongs in 1:24.77 to become eligible to seek a sweep of the 2022 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes series in the $400,000 In Reality at 1 1/16-miles. A sweep in the open division was last achieved by Three Rules in 2016.
“It’s very emotional. We’re excited the way he performed,” trainer Jorge Delgado said. “He showed me today he is a special horse. He can run on the front, he can race in the mid-pack and he likes to win. But as Kobe Bryant once said, ‘The job’s not finished.’”
Alex Childs, who owns Awesome Again with his father Bill and a couple of business associates, ventured to Gulfstream from Fort Worth, Texas to be on hand for CSLR Racing Partners’ rising star.
“We’re blown away by the progression Awesome’s had. He keeps getting better and better and better. It’s something else. He surprises us every time he runs,” Childs said.
Turbo, the 9-2 second choice ridden by Edwin Gonzalez, closed to finish a clear second, four lengths ahead of Apocalypto and jockey Edgard Zayas.