ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 29, 2010) – After scoring stunning maiden victories with 2-year-old colts The Factor and Uncle Sam during the first two days of Santa Anita’s winter-spring meet, Bob Baffert watched another of his 2-year-olds validate Triple Crown promise when Awesome Patriot dramatically captured Wednesday’s $51,520 allowance feature for 2-year-olds at one mile.

Overnight rain had cut the field in half to three starters, but the match race that materialized proved to be compelling. Awesome Patriot and Riveting Reason dueled the entire distance before the former emerged along the rail with a one-half length victory in 1:35.05 over a main course labeled “wet fast.”

With Rafael Bejarano in the saddle, Awesome Patriot was attempting two turns for the first time following three sprint efforts, and the son of Awesome Again lived up to his distance pedigree in game fashion. “I always had high hopes for him going long,” said Baffert, who has saddled the winners of nine Triple Crown events including three Kentucky Derbies.

Baffert’s colt, purchased as a yearling for $350,000 by the Lanni Family Trust, was sent off as the 7-10 favorite while seeking his second win in four starts. Riveting Reason, a veteran of four Grade I competitions in his last five starts, was pegged at 11-10 with Garrett Gomez aboard.

Awesome Patriot broke on top, but yielded the lead to Riveting Reason before Gomez took hold of his mount rounding the first turn. Riveting Reason proceeded to race on Awesome Patriot’s shoulder through fractions of 22.47, 46.42, 1:10.44 and 1:22.53.

Riveting Reason, third in a pair of Grade I stakes races before ever breaking his maiden, put his head in front rounding the far turn. The pair battled furiously through the stretch before Awesome Patriot gradually drew clear nearing the wire. Third-place Miles Long Gone, who never seriously threatened, wound up 9 ¾ lengths behind the dueling leaders.

With no place or show wagering, the winner returned $3.40. Scratched earlier in the day were Anthony’s Cross, Free Pourin and Mr. Candy Bar. The winning purse of $33,600 raised the earnings of Awesome Patriot to $69,500.

Racing continues Thursday at Santa Anita with an eight-race program that gets underway at 12:30 p.m.