Five-year-old beast Dortmund is expected to be an entrant int he 2017 Awesome Again stakes at Santa Anita this weekend with prep underway to eventually return to the Breeders’ Cup where he’s had some unfortunate luck. After running head first in to the likes of California Chrome and American Pharoah during his time as a colt, his connections sought fitting to give him an easier run by sending Dortmund in to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He was upset by Tamarkuz despite being a 6/5 favorite.
Since, things haven’t gone well for Dortmund. He ran 6th in the Frank E. Kilroe Mile and then fell to 4th in the Santana Mile, which was eventually won by Collected. Kaleem Shah and trainer Art Sherman have taken their time in grooming Dortmund back to form and finally have him resembling that near-championship form he showed while going toe-to-toe with two of the sport’s best in 2015 and 2016.
“He’s been a lot better since he’s been back,” said Sherman as Dortmund trained with regular jockey Gary Stevens. “Gary worked him today, and said he felt better than he has for a long time. He’s a lot stronger horse than he was earlier this year. He needed a little break, and he got it.”
That added break will be a big benefit to the physical specimen who will enter the 2017 Awesome Again Stakes against some notable competition. Dortmund ran second to California Chrome in this race last year, and will go up against Cupid, Accelerate, Pavel and Curlin Rules as well as a handful of longshots. All four of those runners are real threats, but none would be able to contend with Dortmund if he’s near the form he showed at the height of his potential.
The 2017 Awesome Again Stakes is a big step up as it delivers the winner straight to the Breeders’ Cup Classic as part of the challenge series of prep races. Yet it’s impossible to know just how strong Dortmund is since we haven’t seen him perform to his known standard for nearly a whole year. What’s also impossible is not cheering for Dortmund. The beloved son of Big Brown could have been a noted champion had he not had to encounter legends like California Chrome. Timing is everything in this sport, and hopefully Dortmund will have his time to shine at the world championships. Art Sherman was non-committal on that front, but we all rooting for Dortmund.
It would certainly be awesome if Dortmund was awesome again. He’s a great competitor and representative of this sport.