Which Legend Will Be Written in Breeders Cup Sprint?

BC Sprint – Grade I
DMR Race #13 6f Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $2,000.000 For Three Year Olds And Upward.


Two horses have won this race twice, Shoot Skyhigh and Bold Star who was trained by the late great Sanny Village but there is one horse that will forever live in HRP folklore who won this three times, the last time remarkably as an eight year old. That horse was of course Alpha Ultimo who was retired as a nine year old trying to win it for the fourth time.
I very much doubt we will ever see a horse like Alpha again who don’t forget won three grade ones as a nine year old in the lead up to his final BC. That one horse gives Jerry Garcia Racing three wins in this race the same as Mb Stables who gained his three wins with three different horses. The three year olds have a good record here but not as good as other BC races so with the way things are this year i think we can safely assume a three year old winner is unlikely.
The record for this race was taken by Ljosalfer in 2004 when he recorded a time of 1.07.49 well over a second quicker than any of the last ten years.

To get an idea of the sort of horse we are looking for in the BC Sprint lets takes a look at the previous winners of the event dating back to 2011

2011 Sweeper

Two runs before the BC: first in the Voosburgh and first in the Crosby both at grade one

Form figures leading up to the BC: 112211

Positional splits in the race: 6,4,3,1

2012 New York Yankees

Two runs before the BC: First in the Smile Sprint Handicap at grade two and sixth in the SA Sprint Championship at grade one

Form figures leading up to the BC: 31010

Positional Splits in the race: 5,4,2,1

2013 Bold Star

Two runs before the BC: Second in the O Brien, first in the SA Sprint Championship at grade one

Form Figures leading up to the BC: 4402011121

Positional Splits in the race: 10 ,9, 10 ,1

2014 Bold Star

Two runs before the BC: Second in the Crosby, first in the Vosburgh both at grade one

Form Figures leading up to the race: 01021

Positional splits in the race: 13, 12, 12, 1

2015 Trench Admiral

Two runs before the BC: First in the Kings Bishop at grade one, second in the Vosburgh

Form Figures leading up to the race: 011214112

Positional splits in the race: 7,7,1,1

2016 No Doubt About it

Two runs before the BC: ninth in the O brien, first in the SA Sprint Championship at grade one

Form Figures leading up to the race: 140101

Positional splits during the race: 6,6,3,1

2017 Moon Landing

Two runs before the BC: Third in the Forego, third in the SA Sprint Championship both at grade one

Form Figures leading up to the race: 10023233

Positional Splits during the race: 8,7,3,1

2018 Bay Of Plenty

Two runs before the BC: eighth in the Woodward, third in the Vosburgh at grade one

Form Figures leading up to the BC: 2140203

Positional Splits during the race: 5,4,3,1

2019 Con Artist

Two runs before the BC: Second in the Forego, fifth in the SA Sprint Championship both at grade one

Form Figures leading up to the BC; 6221010

Positional splits during the race: 4,4,2,1

2020 John Dere

Two runs before the BC: First in the Crosby at grade one, second in the Gallant Bob

Form Figures leading up to the BC: 11112

Positional splits during the race: 13,12,8,1

When i did this same comparison for the BC Turf i was surprised how many on pace horses had won, especially considering the grueling 12 furlong trip and the fact that the new race engine was actually created to increase the chance of on speed horses, something that was by no means a problem in that race. In this race however when you would expect on speed to dominate it is in fact the closer’s and mid pack runners that have dominated. Con Artist was the best to the first split in fourth but nothing that went through the first two furlongs in the first three managed to go on and win. So how will the new race engine effect this race? Well it is doubtful we will see the huge late runs of John Dere and Bold Star this year as the race engine has probably put a stop to that but what i would expect is the winner to be the horse that gets a position just behind the speed, in stalk or midpack.
This race is a little more unpredictable as far as form goes with two previous winners with just a single win before the BC and three winners with just two. Of the others one has three and the other four have four or more but what we see here is a difficult race for the punter as they try and work out a winner.

OK so that’s enough looking back at the past, what about this years great race, lets take a look at the runners:


1         Shifu Tan       Cedillo A          124

A three year old gelding

Trained by Fractious and bred by Keikowin Racing

Record
Races: 11
Wins: 4
Purse: $387.40
This year: 01022001

This has always been a good horse but after his efforts in the Stephens and the Bay Shore from horrible draws he went on to disappoint a little in the Amsterdam and The Jerkins Memorial. Those efforts may have been the catalyst behind the breeder putting him up for sale and he fetched a fair looking price at the time at just under the $300. I think the new trainer just thought he would give the three year old a go at late qualification for the sprint and threw him in The Phoenix and sure enough the son of Decima came up trumps getting home pretty comfortably in the end in a very fast time. That would’ve been a very pleasant surprise for the new owner but we knew he was capable and it was just a matter of whether he could win this last ditch effort.
I actually think this one is far better than his form figures suggest and i do feel that he has a better chance here than many would’ve thought. From the one gate he may have to pick a path as he doesn’t look a natural on pacer but with that bit of luck he may be one of the few three year olds in the Breeders Cup with a live chance.

2         Sweet Sweet Sweet          Castellano J J

A five year old gelding

Trained and bred by Night Rider Stables

Record
Races: 34
Wins: 13
Purse: $372.87
This year: 01340110

This five year old got here thanks to wins in the Vigil Stakes and the O Brien where he ran a terrific race to get up by a nose from an horrific draw. Around those efforts he has been thereabouts in the CD, The Vosburgh and The Triple Bend so comes here with the right credentials to be given a fighting chance. The biggest issue for him is that he tends to be a horse that comes from behind and whilst we all know we can change that with a click of a button i also feel that his best chance will be in coming from off the speed. A balancing act for the trainer who will be wishing he could take the reins himself but this draw certainly gives them good choices and a big effort can be expected.


3       Geronimo       Carrasco V R         126

A four year old gelding

Trained and bred by Nakamura Stables

Record
Races: 25
Wins: 5
Purse: $750.70
This year: 41011200

This horse will forever be famous for running the six furlongs in the KYD in a time that would have been fast enough to win this race hands down. Whilst in that race he fell away like a shot pigeon he did prove himself to be a very good three year old when only beaten a length in the Preakness next time. With the ability to run the sort of early splits he ran in the KYD it was inevitable that he would end up running in sprints and sure enough it wasn’t long before he was. This season he won the Fool Handicap and the Bold Venture but his best race came in defeat when second in the Crosby. There is no doubting this gelding can sprint, the question is will he run his best race today or will we see a repeat of his last start in the Phoenix. The draw has come out perfect and with the trainer not afraid of going out in front i winder whether we will see a hail mary attempt from this horse like his KYD run.

4          Duke King          Geroux F        126

A seven year old entire

Trained by Mental Bloch Racing and bred by BigKing

Record
Races: 25
Wins: 5
Purse: $309.93
This year: 104011

I am not really sure where to start is describing this one other than here we have a bit of a rags to riches story both for horse and trainer. The trainer, in only their second season and with only 50 starts for 6 wins gets a horse in the Breeders Cup with their only graded stakes winner. The horse, who had won just $100 in 24 races prior to his last win, who was bought for $8 and was winning a mile optional allowance at lowly ALB as his warm up for BC qualification. Wow, what a story, even if he doesn’t win, but actually believe it or not he could actually win which would be one of the most amazing stories to be writing.
OK, so where do i start, well, if you go back to 2016 this horse was beaten less than a length in the Breeders Futurity, a grade one route for two year olds. He was sold for $250 at that point and went on to run well in the Winkfield and Peter Pan before being sold again for $80. A run of eight poor efforts in overnights led him to be sold again at the age of six for just eight dollars to his current owner. So there was some glimmers there of the horse we see today but this was a horse that hadn’t won for three years when he found Mental Bloch Racing and many would’ve written him off. The trainer removed every add but Lasix and brought him back 5 weeks later and we were to see a much better horse that was to be beaten just a half length in the Triple Bend a few races later. When it came time for him to stand even taller he got his chance last time out in the SA Sprint Championship to get into the BC. Drawn in gate eleven only getting in off the AE after scratching’s he found himself in a race where circumstances were perfect for a shock win. The suicidal early pace meant that closer’s were in with a chance and sure enough whilst others were finding traffic and weakening horses this one stormed home to win by a length. There will be no Samlam to ensure a crazy pace today but lets face it if things go his way we know he can fly home so who knows maybe i will be writing about a fairy tale result.
The draw is perfect but he will have to find his way through the field which may be his biggest worry.

5        Grande Geek         Bridgmohan S X           124

A three year old gelding

Trained by Mb Stables and bred by Spinetingling

Record:
Races: 15
Wins: 7
Purse: $570.95
This year: 01021113

I get the feeling this one has snuck under the radar a little here because the three year olds have been such a non factor this season but i have a feeling this one may just be the biggest chance in the stable and therefore a very good chance in this race. He ran in the BC Juvenile last year but spent the early part of the year at a lower grade learning his trade whilst the trainer learned about him, It all seem to come together in late summer when he took the Shared Belief Stakes before a huge win in the Gallant Bob where he broke 1.09 with ease in winning by two lengths. He went to the lead in the Vosburgh last time but just failed to last home going under by a half length but today’s draw should let him slot into the stalk and i would expect a stronger finish from there.


6        Night Creature         Espinoza V          126

A four year old gelding

Trained by D J C racing Stables, bred by Aer Stables

Record
Races: 23
Wins: 5
Purse: $979.84
This year: 21340020

Ninth in the BC Juvenile Turf, Second in the TAM Derby where else would expect to see him other that the BC Dirt Sprint ! He gets here thanks to a second in the Palos Verdes and second in the grade one Forego but it has to be said he hasn’t got the classic look of a BC Sprint champion. He seems a little inconsistent but then everything has looked that way and if he can reproduce is excellent effort in the forego rather than his ordinary seventh last time out then he would have to have a chance. Working 1,10 flat would be a good enough work time to see him winning this so he must go in the hat with the maybe’s especially from this nice draw.

7         Winchester         Jaramillo E          126

A four year old gelding

Trained by Fractious and bred by Orion Farms

Record
Races: 18
wins: 5
Purse: $910.71
This year: 1000412

What do you do when you have bought a stakes winning turf router from the Turf King and it runs a couple of horrible races in its first two efforts in the new stable? Well first you have a go on dirt and then you have a go at sprinting of course! Just like they did with Tko the trainer switched a stakes winning router to sprinting and has had success taking the horses first grade one in the Forego and then running a very close second in the Vosburgh. As i said about Tko it seems a router at HRP can run just as fast as a sprinter and the trainer picked up on that and has two unlikely qualifiers here. I think of the two this one with its 1.10 flat six furlong work may have the edge and despite its rather stamina laden breeding and conformation will be a winning chance. from this draw.

8        Golden Treasure          Hernandez R M          124

A three year old gelding

Trained by Mb Stables, bred by Boulevard

Record
Races: 15
Wins: 6
Purse: $386.22
This year: 13121033

Well there aren’t so many three year olds BC qualified this year so the trainer did well to get this one in especially when he started the year winning a TAM 4 runner starter allowance. His first race after that was a third in the Bay Shore and he went on to do well in sprints against his own age group winning the Amsterdam and running a good third in the Gallant Bob. He was in front at the furlong pole in the Phoenix last time but weakened into third and he may struggle to reverse that form. He has a chance because the King of HRP is in the wheel house but on form he would have to find a few lengths. The draw gives the trainer options to save some energy.

9         On The Turning Away           Gaffalione T         126

A five year old gelding

Trained by Gdp Inc and bred by Night Mare Racing

Record
Races: 23
Wins: 5
Purse: $437.60
This year: 21301300

When this one took out the Carter Handicap with the likes of Expert Eye behind he looked like he was going to be the sort to run up a sequence in the sprint stakes races. He then ran another good race to be third in the CD and subsequently third in the Crosby and whilst he wasn’t winning he was certainly winning checks and making his mark. His last two starts were vastly different races but resulted in two sixth place finishes which whilst on the face of it may have been disappointing i feel maybe there was some experimenting going on. In the Forego he was ridden as a deep closer and then in the Phoenix he was ridden as a front runner which may have been the effects of the draw or may have been the trainer experimenting with the click and play instructions. His best form seems to be when ridden around mid-pack or closer but with the race engine rewarding horses on the speed you can understand the need to play around with that. For this race however it would be nice to see him fifth or sixth and coming on strong at the end and if that happens he will be very competitive.

10         Not Trippin Now           Velazquez J R       126

a six year old gelding

Trained and bred by Gdp Inc

Record
Races: 14
Wins: 5
Purse: $696.15
This year: 13111021

Gets his starts here thanks to the win in the Vosburgh but his place was already written before that after he won the CD and The True North. That win in the Vosburgh last time came from a terrible draw but he forced himself into the stalk and then was really game in getting a quarter length win. He did the same in the CD from another poor draw so a wide draw wont be a problem to him.

Probably the most remarkable and rewarding thing about this horse though is the fact that it has only had 14 races with eight of them coming this year as a six year old. The trainer raced him once in 2017, then gelded him and then didn’t run him again until 2019. Even after all that patience he couldn’t win a race at levels from free to fair and above and it wasn’t until this year as a six year old that he finally broke his maiden at the free track. Hats off to the trainer because many would’ve given up on this home-bred and in fact anyone could’ve claimed him for just $8 before that free track win, But this year like a cryptocurrency he has been on a bull run going from free track maiden winner to a triple graded stakes winner and a very strong fancy for this BC championship race. This is a race full of fairy tale stories just waiting to be written and this is one of them.

11         Seven Towers         Moran D        126

A four year old gelding

Trained by Threshold and bred by Smokey Stover

Record
Races: 15
Wins: 7
Purse: $470
This year: 11023

A very lightly raced four year old who has been brought along slowly by the trainer and looks to give them their first BC success here. He went through three trainers in quick succession as a three year old ending up with this owner after being claimed for $20 from Fractious. He went on a run of wins at lower grade slowly building a record before really bursting onto the scene in the Fleet Sprint Handicap where he carried a low weight and came with a strong late run to win. He got too far back in the Triple Bend next time out but then bounced back in the Vanderbilt Handicap to be a close second giving weight to the winner. In his prep race for this he again got going too late ending up third in the DeFrancis Dash and whilst his form isn’t too bad it is tough to compare with some of the others as he has avoided the qualifying races. He comes in nice and fresh, can work the times and is definitely going up his improvement curve so he should give the stable a good run for their money.

12       Tallmadge Star       Saez L        126

A five year old gelding

Trained by Our Athletes and bred by Oquinn Farm

Record
Races: 25
Wins: 9
Purse: $1458.30
This year: 1122100

Beaten just a neck in last years race he was sold to the current owner just before Christmas for just $200 which has turned out to be a bargain. He started the year off strongly taking the GP Sprint Championship and the San Carlos before good seconds in the CD and True North before a strong win in the Nerud to qualify for this race and a chance to go one better. Things were looking to be going really well for him but then something happened and i don’t think anyone including his trainer knows what. A slightly below par effort in the Forego was followed by an awful effort in The Phoenix last time and it may be that his racing career is drawing to an end. Having said that i have said exactly that before and been made to look a fool so i wouldn’t write him off for one bad race and we know that if he is near his best he is good enough. If he wins or runs well today we will have to put that Phoenix run down to another one of those ‘HRP’ things but it will be risky to be too confident in what is a notoriously hard race to win especially with this draw.

13           Expert Eye            Davis D          126

A five year old entire

Trained by TwinTowersRacing and bred by Blushing Meadows

Record
Races: 28
Wins: 8
Purse: $707.51
This year: 1030212

Well this stable has always been one to have a go with their horses and the reason they do it is this sort of horse. A winner stakes early on this year he then raced in two garde ones where he ran well without winning. A nose second in the Bold Venture set him up for a crack at the Crosby and in he went to the BC with a comfortable one length win. He stepped up to the mile to take advantage of a lowweight in the Kelso Handicap in his last start and ran well to be beaten just a quarter length for second. He looks just the sort to run well here, the Crosby win was out of the top drawer and he has been lightly raced since bringing him here a fresh horse.

14     That Funky Monkey      Pereira T J       126

A four year old gelding

Trained by Maxmillion Farm and bred by LionKing Stables

Record
Races: 20
Wins: 5
Purse: $456.62
This year: 31030100

Another router that can sprint as he proved when taking the Vanderbilt Handicap to qualify for this race in one. He is clearly a very good horse but is very hard to weigh up considering his form figures. You would expect him to struggle with the early pace and go back from this draw which will make it very hard for him to win but with the click and play instructions who knows, maybe we will see him set a 21 second first quarter on a clear lead. Capable but impossible to pick.

15     Code Red Party      – Also Eligible –      124

A three year old gelding trained by Martyparty and bred by them.

On the AE so it will be tough for him to make the field and even tougher to win from gate 14 but he is a solid sprinter who has been running with the big boys so would be competitive.

16    Wet Snow       – Also Eligible –          126

A five year old gelding trained by Big Jd Racing and bred by Our Athletes

Even less chance of running being second AE he hasn’t even raced at stakes level this year and it is a pretty big achievement to even get on the list !


SUMMARY

A really tough race with so many possible scenario’s. I think the inside will have it here though with Sweet Sweet Sweet, Shifu Tan, Geronimo and Grande Creek being huge chances from their draw. Good luck to all in what will be a fast and furious race.



Categories: BC 2021, Grade I, Races, STAKES ARTICLES, THE BREEDERS CUP

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