06/30/2016 3:06PM

Awesome Banner short price in Carry Back

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Lauren King/Coglianese Photos
Awesome Banner wins the Big Cypress Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Awesome Banner figures to go postward as one of the shortest-priced favorites on Saturday’s $1.13 million Summit of Speed program when he faces six other 3-year-olds in the Grade 3 Carry Back at Gulfstream Park. The Carry Back will be run at seven furlongs.

Awesome Banner is undefeated at distances up to seven furlongs, with all four such starts coming at Gulfstream Park. His lone setbacks in six career outings came within a two-week span last winter when he attempted to go two turns in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby.

Awesome Banner was transferred from trainer Stanley Gold to Mark Casse after running eighth in the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby. In his only start for Casse, he edged away to a 2 1/4-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong Big Cypress as the 3-5 favorite here on June 4.

“He had two bad races, and we didn’t know why, so we wanted to take our time and figure him out,” said Casse. “They were both route races, so maybe it was the distance, but it seemed like he just didn’t show up. He was never in the races at any point. He’d been training well, but honestly, we didn’t know what to expect in the Big Cypress. He ran well, and I think he’s training even better now than before.”

Awesome Banner will break from the rail under a new rider, Tyler Gaffalione. He figures to receive his stiffest test in the Carry Back from Kentucky invader Rated R Superstar, who was Grade 1-placed at 2 around two turns. Rated R Superstar comes off a big performance, rallying from last to a 1 1/4-length allowance win going 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs on May 30.

“His pedigree says he’s probably a sprinter, and he definitely stepped up in his last race,” said trainer Ken McPeek. “The timing and the distance against straight 3-year-olds really suits him.”

Discreet Angel is the unknown factor in the race. A Group 1 winner in Puerto Rico at 2, Discreet Angel encountered a muddy track and early trouble when making his U.S. debut in the Chick Lang Stakes on May 21 at Pimlico and finished last of seven. But he looked sharp working a 46-and-change half-mile here last weekend for new trainer Marcial Navarro.

◗ Dearest figures to go postward an odds-on favorite in the $100,000 Azalea for 3-year-old fillies. Dearest is a perfect 3 for 3 at six to seven furlongs, including winning the Royal Palm Stakes by six lengths as the 1-5 choice here last month. Her lone defeat was a third-place finish behind two of the top members of her division, Cathryn Sophia and Lewis Bay, going a mile in the Grade 2 Davona Dale here.

Curlin’s Approval, an impressive debut winner here last month, and Kentucky invader Twirl Girl, an allowance winner at Keeneland in April, figure to give Dearest her stiffest challenge in the seven-furlong Azalea.

◗ A couple of well-matched fields will go 1 1/16 miles on the turf in the $75,000 Miesque’s Approval for 3-year-olds and up and its filly-mare counterpart, the $75,000 Spook Express.

Xaverian and Hammers Terror, first and second in the Raymond Earl on June 4, will renew acquaintances in the Miesque’s Approval. Others in the field include the in-form duo of Grand Isle and Aire Bueno.

Susie Bee, winner of the Amelia Island in her last start, is the horse to beat in the Spook Express, with defending champ Lori’s Store, her stablemate E B Ryder, and Pink Poppy all legitimate contenders.

◗ Successful Native, Daring Kathy, Do the Roar, and Doctor J Dub, the first four finishers in the Bonita Stakes four weeks ago, square off again at five furlongs in the $75,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Sprint for 3-year-olds and up.

Successful Native rallied up the rail to his second consecutive victory in the Bonita, finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of Daring Kathy, the only female in the race. Speechify, a Grade 3 winner on dirt but with limited experience on grass, and Shadow Rock, a winner of two of his last three starts, all in Kentucky, also figure as key contenders.

◗ Local 2-year-olds will get their first opportunity to earn stakes brackets on Saturday in the $75,000 Birdonthewire for 2-year-olds and the $75,000 Cassidy Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. Both races are at 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

Impressive debut winners Three Rules and Francesco Appeal top the Birdonthewire, while White Gold and Perfect Kay figure to vie for favoritism in the Cassidy.