The GP Sprint Championships (Grade 3)- $100.000 Purse
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
February 22, 2020
A strong field has shown up for the 16th running of the Grade 3 GP Sprint Championships despite the smaller purse in which it offers. This is a race that was once a Grade 2, and in its heyday ran for $225.000. The current $100.000 became the norm in 2014, which would also be the last year that the race ran at seven furlongs. Despite that, we have continued to see good horses and full fields for the event, and that will be true once again here. Last year, Our Athletes picked up the win with Controlled Lion, and he will have a chance to become the first trainer to win this race in consecutive years. Let’s meet his entry and the rest of the field now!
#1- In Captivity (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- The first two posts give us horses that have exceeded $1,000.000 in career earnings and each of them will make their 2020 debut. For In Captivity, it has been a little while since he won a big race, but did get the Grade 3 Bold Venture in September for his first win since, yes, 2017. There has been many good second place finishes in that span, but he’s a bit inconsistent, which is uncommon to see from a Mb Stables horse.
#2- Sonar (Threshold, ridden by T Gaffalione)- He’s won a little more then In Captivity has, and a big boost in that came just a few months ago when he placed third in the BC Sprint. That was a tremendous result for the trainer, who only a few days before picked him up in private sales for just $110.000. He won an ungraded stake to follow that up, which is a resurgent show of form for the now 31-race veteran. Fired a Valentine’s Day bullet work at PRX, too.
#3- Aggravating (Fractious, ridden by E J Wilson)- In what is more of an example of the value that Threshold got for Sonar, Fractious paid just a little more for this one in private sales about ten days later, doing so for $125.000. Aggravating has five wins in thirteen starts, but is still looking for that race to characterize as his career highlight. Ran nicely here in an optional claimer a couple months ago in his Fractious debut, and is working well coming into this. I would not rule out this becoming that race, unless he did even more later.
#4- Glorious (Spankys Barn, ridden by J Bravo)- Here is another that has surpassed $1,000.000 in career earnings. The now six year old gelding has never really seen a slowdown in overall form. A couple of his most recent races that were less effective were attempts at a mile, so when he is sprinting like he is today, he has proven himself to be reliable. He ran fourth in his first race of the year, the Grade 2 Palos Verdes, but it was one of those races were fourth was a quarter length away from the win. Expect him to run well again.
#5- Saturday Khartoum (Rousee, ridden by L Saez)- We can’t quite say he is a member of the $1,000.000 club, but he has had a fantastic career in his own right. Are his best days in the past, though? He comes off a 2019 where he was winless in five starts, and only had one in the money finish, a race in which he finished third. The fact that he only had five races might say just as much as that winless stat. Ran last month and threw a dud. I have covered some of this horses biggest races and wins, so would love to see him bounce back. In this field, he is a little hard to pick, though.
#6- Cucamonga (Tiratzo, ridden by P Lopez)- Following a three old season that saw the Pink Panther colt win three of nine races, Cucamonga took a step back for this 2020 debut to run at TAM in an optional claimer. He would win that race. At this point, his signature win is the Grade 2 Gallant Bob Stakes at PRX last September, but he never really built on that. He was thrust out there on just two weeks rest for the Grade 1 SA Sprint Championships, struggled, and was never forgiven, it seems, until now, as this is the first graded race he has run in since then.
#7- Commanding Bee (John Henry, ridden by M Tunon)- One of two horses in this field, and he might be a little hard to like. After all, he has only won one of his 16 career starts, and has only hit the board in six of them. He was placed in Grade 1’s immediately after breaking his maiden, and if we consider only stakes, he is 13-0-1-2. If we dismiss his first two stakes, that becomes, 11-0-0-1. Picking him seems like a good way to donate to the wagering pools. He does work well, though. Maybe this will be the day! People say that a lot about him, probably. John Henry has made many good private sales purchases. Getting this one for $500.000 is not one of them. (At least not right now).
#8- We Tallawah (Night Rider Stables, ridden by Ro Maragh)- Saw him last month in the Palos Verdes, and I am kind of glad I did because I might be looking at him a little differently. The race line shows a pace setter that didn’t have what it took in the stretch. In reality, We Tallawah showed a lot of heart in the stretch despite being passed by several. So, Night Rider is just going to have to find a way to make him run better a little longer, and that can be done. Perhaps putting his favorite jockey in the saddle will help!
#9- Zombie Lady (Nolespan Racing, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Makes just the sixth start of his career, making him seem like just baby compared to the likes of Glorious or Sonar. Oh, and despite his name, this is indeed a male and not a filly or mare running against the boys. His career has been an interesting one, winning his debut race going long on turf, then following that up by going directly into the Grade 3 Fleet Sprint Handicap, which he also won. After struggling in his next two, he was third against fellow NM-breds in the Jamison Handicap.
#10- Bodivo (Our Athletes, ridden by J J Castellano)- I see that familiar dam again, but mentioning her last time did not go well for the trainer, so I won’t mention her again. I will instead focus on the trainer’s effort to win this race for the second straight year with Bodivo. He’s been consistent, winning half of his twelve career starts, but has only once tried a graded stake. Both that and his lone ungraded attempt were not good performances, but the gelding continues to work well and should be prepared to face very tough opposition here.
#11- Black Scorpion (John Henry, ridden by J R Leparoux)- This is the more likable of the trainer’s two entries, but adding him to the stable did not come cheaply, either. He was picked up for $350.000 from Blushing Meadows two weeks after running second in the Crosby. Since then, he has finished fourth in three of his four starts (and a seventh in the other). He’s typically a pacesetter, but the Crosby was one time that was a little different. From this post, might that change here?
#12- French Eclipse (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by N Juarez)- When he runs well, he wins. Out of 22 career starts, he has ten victories, so obviously a good clip. Only three other races have seen him hit the board, so I am trying to determine if this is a good or a bad thing. Obviously, the wins are great, but he has some head scratchers, too. His last two are wins, including the first stake win of his career, so hopefully he doesn’t regress here. He’s been very lucky in post position draws for his career, making this starting spot an especially noteworthy variable.