12/29/2010 9:03PM

Fresh shooters arrive

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Awesome Patriot had little to beat Wednesday in race 4, a first-level allowance for 2-year-olds at one mile. Knock the Bob Baffert trainee at your own risk.

Baffert skipped the Hollywood Futurity with the Awesome Again-sired colt billed as a two-turn horse. Stretching to a mile over a “wet-fast” track, he ran the best race of his four-start career.

Awesome Patriot made the lead into the backstretch, while hounded by Riveting Reason. The early pace was kind (:46.42 and 1:10.44); both colts turned it on late.

They raced head-and-head through a final quarter-mile in 24.21 seconds, and despite his relative inexperience, Awesome Patriot would not yield to his seasoned rival. At the finish, Awesome Patriot pulled clear by a half-length and galloped out well in front.

His final time of 1:35.05 should produce a Beyer Figure in the 85 to 90 range. (Awesome Patriot earned an 89 Beyer.)

It was a respectable time by a lightly raced colt with much to prove. At this point, the horse he beat (Riveting Reason) is merely allowance-caliber. Riveting Reason finished fifth of 10 in the Hollywood Futurity, and was eighth of 10 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The allowance race Wednesday would have been more meaningful if Anthony’s Cross ran. However, he scratched due to track condition and will run Jan. 15 in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. His expected opponent in that race will be Tapizar.

Rafael Bejarano rode Awesome Patriot and also Gladding in race 7. The Florida shipper started at even-money in the first-level allowance for older horses at a mile.

Purchased privately following a 17-length maiden win at Calder on Oct. 22, Gladding was making his first start for trainer John Sadler and owner Lee Searing. The 3-year-old gelding reproduced his best form, winning by two and one-quarter lengths in a sharp 1:34.19.

His final time should produce a Beyer Figure in the 95 to 100 range. (Gladding earned a 99 Beyer.)

Is it good enough to hit the board Feb. 5 in the Grade 2 Strub Stakes? It just might be.

The meet is only three days old. The new shooters are showing up.