Awesome Banner has only two races under his belt. He won both.
But if the 3-year-old colt proves as wildly successful in the future as has in his brief racing career, he could become a name to be reckoned with the rest of the Gulfstream Park meet — and beyond.
Awesome Banner rolled to a convincing 4 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Hutcheson Stakes, an early six-furlong test for horses pointing toward the Florida Derby later in the meet.
The question is whether he can stretch his blazing speed over longer distances.
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“Because of his demeanor, I don’t think distance is going to be a problem,” trainer Stanley Gold said. “He’s sprinting because we’re training him to sprint, and we’re riding him to sprint, but he’s never shown any problem to do what you want with. Certainly, we’re going to try to stretch him out.”
Winning jockey Jose Caraballo concurred: “This is a brilliant colt. I think he’s going to have a long career ahead of him. I think he’ll go longer. He’s a fast horse, but he’s not a speed horse, a crazy horse.”
Caraballo took Awesome Banner to the early lead, repelled a challenge from Union Grace midway through the race and pulled away in the stretch for the easy win, well ahead of second-place finisher Noholdingback Bear.
Awesome Banner broke his maiden at Gulfstream in June by nearly 10 lengths but was forced to take a break because of a minor injury.
“You always have doubts first time out and this long off, and when they get pressured all the way you could find yourself coming up short despite whatever you do,” Gold said of the colt’s return following the lengthy layoff. “When he started to draw off in the stretch, I was impressed.”
Awesome Banner wasn’t the only big 3-year-old winner Saturday.
And he wasn’t the only horse with Awesome in his name to come out a winner in a stakes for 3-year-olds.
Awesome Speed captured the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes, a one-turn mile event in which he prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over El Charro.
Awesome Speed, who was coming off back-to-back wins at Laurel, was pinched at the start Saturday but overcame early trouble under jockey Joel Rosario to run his streak to three in a row.
“I saw the four horse [Aggressive Driver] was going to the lead, and I kind of eased him out a little bit,” Rosario said.
Awesome Speed is owned by Colts Neck Stables and trained by Alan Goldberg.
Rosario won five races Saturday.
“I’m just happy it happened to me [Saturday], and we’re looking forward from this,” he said.