The Fleet Sprint Handicap (Grade 3)- $500.000 Purse
OP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
Six Furlongs on the Dirt
April 16, 2022
With much of the virtual racing world focused on the KYD and KYO pictures, or the next generation of two year olds, this could seem like a quiet weekend. It won’t be, though, as there are strong races out there for older horses this weekend, and here we will look at the 17th running of the Fleet Sprint Handicap. It’s a race that saw its purse level increase to $500.000 in 2020, and back in the day, Ljosalfar won in back to back years (2007 and 2008). Much more recently, Threshold was the winning trainer with his gelding, Seven Towers. He is still active, but has not won a race since the Fleet Sprint last year. Weights should not be an issue, unless you are Chip Away, as the weights are either 118 or 119 pounds. Chip Away needs to carry 121 and start from post 12, however. Let’s look at him and the rest of the field a little closer.
#1- Stand In Line (Angelos Stable, ridden by Mar Garcia)- The five year old gelding will make his 26th career start here, and while he has been a steady producer throughout his career, he lacks that victory that really impresses you. His only career stake win came in his last start, two months ago at GG in the EL Dorado Shooter for CA-breds. His race prior may cause some concern about him duplicating that effort, which would have to happen to be a contender here.
#2- Insist Always (Mb Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- For the majority of his career, Insist Always has run on the turf, and this would include appearing in the BC Mile last fall. He didn’t do much there, but was better in a couple of open allowances afterwards. That doesn’t mean he can’t handle this condition, as he did run in the Grade 1 Nerud last summer, and was fourth in the race, and further back, he won a PA-bred stake as a dirt sprint. Given his WR, you can see what the trainer is thinking here, and it may prove to be a wise move.
#3- Play Along (Nakamura Stables, ridden by J K Court)- Running for high purses is not new for Play Along, it is just something that he has not done for a while. With Royalty Stables, he was a length away from winning the Crosby in 2020, but has mostly been running in overnights since. He still has only won three of twenty, so he’s not dominating at that level, but a four length win at SUN has Nakamura hoping to get the type of race that Royalty got earlier in his career.
#4- Settle The Score Vr (John Henry, ridden by J Lezcano)- Picked up by the trainer in the June auction last year for $75.010, and has had hit and miss success since the purchase. There’s only been one win, but the gelding has been better hitting the board, such as in his last race where he was third in the Fool Handicap. I think these are great conditions for him, and expect that he gets a piece of the purse, and maybe the winners share.
#5- Stormy Liberal (Big Guns Stables, ridden by R M Hernandez)- Speaking of the Fool Handicap, Stormy Liberal was there as well, and finished one spot better than Settle The Score Vr. He has been a great $30.000 claim for Big Guns, and the gelding has a better winning percentage, at 5 of 13, than Settle The Score Vr does, so if you want to give a lot of weight to the Fool Handicap for this race, he is a little more appealing to put on top. Ever since he was gelded, he never runs a bad race.
#6- Higher Drift (Asgar, ridden by E Maldonado)- Over his career, Higher Drift has done an excellent job of finishing in the money, doing that in 13 of his 16 races, and ten of those have been in the top two. He comes here off of a third place effort, where he came from well off the pace, in the GP Sprint Championship in mid-February. A month prior, he won the SSM Sprint for FL-breds and seems poised for a strong run here.
#7- Crimson Sun (Royalty Stables, ridden by J Talamo)- Last September, Royalty Stables claimed this horse for a mere $6.500 at LAD, and certainly did not think he was done, something that was probably the case with his previous trainer since he had run in good races prior to that. He won a $90.000 allowance in his Royalty debut, and has been profitable, but the trainer would still love to celebrate a big stake win like he could right here.
#8- Legend Larry (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by Ru Gonzalez)- The Day of Destiny gelding has won his last two races, the first being an optional claimer, and then an N1X allowance, and that will see him get a chance to run at this level. He has certainly earned it, with a very strong record of hitting the board, especially since August of last year. Has gone back and forth between sprinting and running, and fares well at each.
#9- Hard Discretion (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by D Moran)- Over the fall, the Hardline gelding went on a three race winning streak, which peaked with him winning the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes. He has continued to run at the graded level since then and comes off an excellent outing last month in the Grade 2 San Carlos, where he was third, but one spot better than Splash Mountain. It was the first time he ran under a mile since May 2021, and will cut off another furlong here.
#10- Mo Town (Spankys Barn, ridden by L J Luzzi)- Began last season well, but after struggling against a tough crowd in the Grade 1 Gold Cup, Mo Town struggled and that included when he was dropped down in class all the way to optional claimers. He’d be gelded in late January and would see his distanced reduced to a sprint in the not creatively named, “The Sprint” at TAM. He ran second there, which is promising, but it will be important for him to put two strong races together again.
#11- Carnoustie (Smokey Stover, ridden by R Gutierrez)- This horse has made a habit of visiting the winner’s circle, with fourteen wins in 27 career starts, and he is not one of those horses that usually runs long. That’s actually something that Carnoustie has never done, so he fits perfectly here. He’s a former BC Sprint runner that has not been in a graded race since the end of 2020, though that is also the last time he never picked up a piece of the purse in a race. Tremendously consistent and ready to make an impact at this level again.
#12- Chip Away (South Shore Stables, ridden by T Gaffalione)- Two starts ago, Chip Away won the Grade 3 GP Sprint Championship, also while starting from the far outside like he does here. So, while we know he can handle the post, that victory means that he will be carrying 2-3 pounds more than everyone else in the field. That might not end up being too big of a deal either, but when you put those two things together, it’ll take a great effort to get a win. He’s very capable of doing that.