(Awesome Again x Tizso, by Cee’s Tizzy)
- Trainer: Bob Baffert
- Jockey: Martin Garcia
- Owned by: Zayat Stables
- Career Record: 10:4-4-0
- Earnings: $1,101,924
- 2013 Record: 4:1-2-0
- 2013 accomplishments: G1-placed Awesome Again Stakes
- Santa Anita record: 3:1-1-0
- TrueNicks rating: A++ Variant 36.14
- Dosage Index: 2.75
- Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: 119 (down from last year’s 123)
- Lost last prep - Awesome Again Stakes by 4 1/4 lengths
Summary: One of the best stories to emerge from horse racing, Paynter made a dramatic recovery from his bout of severe, nearly-fatal sickness following his awesome Haskell (I) win last year to return to the winner’s circle this year. Since that point of return, things have been dodgy for the horse that Bob Baffert declared was even better than Bodemeister as he prepares for the biggest race of his life against other horses.
Prep Schedule: After a long recuperation period, Paynter returned a big favorite to Hollywood Park in a June allowance race, rolling from wire-to-wire to win the 7-furlong warmup by 4 1/2 lengths. Six weeks later, he went straight into the 1 1/16 mile San Diego Handicap (II) at Del Mar, where he fell victim to a pressured pace and tried to come on again late but fell short to Kettle Corn, who bested him by a short half length. He picked a bad day to ship to Saratoga for the Woodward (I), arriving on a simply ghastly rainy day on a sloppy-sealed course, where he lunged, hit the gate, stalked from 3-wide all around, and then faded in the mud, 4th by 7 1/4 lengths. Shipping back to Santa Anita, Paynter found his footing again, stalking the leaders before going 5-wide into the Awesome Again Stakes (I), but was outgamed by a better-tripped Mucho Macho Man, who defeated him by 4 1/4 lengths.
Physique: Another textbook Awesome Again boy, Paynter is long-bodied, sturdy, and with a reaching, efficient stride. His shoulder is nice and strong to match that huge heart of his.
Pedigree: Easily one of the best pedigrees in the field, Paynter is by 1998 winner Awesome Again, who himself is one of the best dirt route sires around and featuring five-star lineage himself. Paynter’s dam Tizso is a full sister to 2000 & 2001 Classic winner Tiznow— another dynamite classic distance sire— and a half sibling to the dam of Preakness winner Oxbow, who is a 3/4 brother to Paynter. Tizso also produced G3 winner Tiz West.
Running Style: Pacesetter or just behind the pace
Pros: Potential monster in the making and a past monster the more ground he was handed, Paynter has the potential to improve off that Awesome Again prep— which actually wasn’t a horrible race for him!— and with another furlong he could unveil his true potential. The pace may also setup favorably for him as a horse who comes from behind the speed.
Cons: He has yet to show quite the same electricity he had as a three-year-old and may even be somewhat ill-prepared for this specific race given his non-race in the Woodward two races back. Classic contenders usually display some pizazz leading in.
Final Word: It’s no question that the horse to beat this year is Paynter’s stablemate Game On Dude, and Paynter is currently about a light year away from being on even terms with Dude in terms of form and fitness. I won’t completely dismiss— I think he’s a very good horse— but probably not ready for this race right now. I think it would take a really badass workout to change my mind at this point.