12/27/2010 3:31PM

Stretchout should suit Awesome Patriot

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Derby season has begun at Santa Anita, where a first-level allowance race Wednesday carries 2011 implications for Awesome Patriot and Anthony’s Cross.

Although six entered the mile race, including Grade 1-placed Riveting Reason, the future looks brightest for Awesome Patriot and Anthony’s Cross.

Awesome Patriot is trained by Bob Baffert, who believes the colt will appreciate two turns.

“I always had high hopes for him going long,” Baffert said.

Sired by Awesome Again, Awesome Patriot won his sprint debut, then was fifth and third in successive sprint stakes.

Baffert planned to run Awesome Patriot on Dec. 18 in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity but changed his mind after a mediocre work. “He wasn’t ready for that,” Baffert said.

Is he ready for the allowance race Wednesday?

“He worked really well the other day,” Baffert said.

Awesome Patriot worked seven furlongs in 1:25.40 on Friday.

While Awesome Patriot won first out, Anthony’s Cross needed four starts to put it all together.

“He had been asked to do too much,” trainer Eoin Harty said, referring to the deep-closing style he showed his first three starts.

Harty revised strategy for the colt’s fourth start.

“We tried a different tactic, and it paid off,” Harty said.

Positioned closer to the pace, Anthony’s Cross responded with a pace-pressing win over a good field of Churchill Downs maidens Nov. 4.

Fourth-place finisher Tapizar returned to win by more than 10, while runner-up Voodat returned to finish second in a Fair Grounds maiden race. It was not the first time Anthony’s Cross faced a good field. In summer at Saratoga, he finished a respectable third behind subsequent graded stakes winners Astrology and To Honor and Serve.

Anthony’s Cross was not nominated to the CashCall Futurity, otherwise Harty said he “would have taken a shot.” A son of Indian Charlie out of a mare whose previous foal is 4-for-8 Grade 3 winner Fugitive Angel, Anthony’s Cross has “trained very well,” according to Harty.

Riveting Reason finished fifth in the CashCall Futurity and previously was third in two Grade 1’s – the Norfolk at Hollywood Park and the Del Mar Futurity. Riveting Reason has the highest speed figures in the field and will start as one of the favorites.

Other starters include Baffert-trained maiden sprint winner Free Pourin, stretchout Miles Long Gone, and Golden Gate shipper Mr. Candy Bar.