Breeders’ Cup Catch-Up: Sprinters take the spotlight three weeks out
Each week, we’ll review a handful of prominent contenders across multiple divisions,and explore who’s hot and who’s not heading into the Breeders’ Cup.
On the rise
A 5-year-old son of Silent Name, Silent Poet hasn’t lost a turf sprint since July of 2018, and he certainly put his frontrunning speed to good use in Sunday’s 6-furlong Nearctic (G2) at Woodbine.
Allowed to set slow fractions of :23.65 and :46.16 over a good course, Silent Poet turned on the afterburners in the homestretch. He blazed blazed the fifth furlong in :10.88 and the final furlong in :11.53 to win by a half-length in 1:08.57.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) could be a viable goal for Silent Poet, who is undefeated in four grass dashes this season.
Trained bu Mark Casse, Souper Sensational lived up to her name in Saturday’s Glorious Song S. at Woodbine.
In the 7-furlong sprint over the Tapeta track, Souper Sensational vied for the lead through splits of :22.76 and :45.78, then pulled clear readily down the homestretch to win by four lengths, in a snappy 1:21.84.
Undefeated in two starts, Souper Sensational has the breeding to excel on both dirt and turf, which stamps the 2-year-old filly as an intriguing contender for either the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) or Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
Following a series of runner-up efforts against some of the best 3-year-old fillies in the country, Venetian Harbor finally returned to the winner’s circle in Saturday’s Raven Run (G2) at Keeneland.
The speedy daughter of Munnings led the way through fractions of :23.06 and :46.17, kicked away at the top of the stretch, and dug deep to hold off four-time stakes winner Finite by a determined neck.
Venetian Harbor’s final time of 1:23.03 for 7 furlongs was quick over a slow track, which makes the Richard Baltas trainee a threat for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
The United Nations (G1) winner entered Thursday’s 1 1/2-mile Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland with a chance to cement his credentials as a Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) contender.
Unfortunately, the 7-year-old veteran failed to bring his "A" game. He gave way, after he pressed the pace, to finish seventh.
It was Aquaphobia’s second straight defeat, following a third-place effort in the Sword Dancer (G1), so it appears his form is slipping as we head into fall.
The runner-up in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf, this seven-time Group 1-winning mare was expected to prevail in Saturday’s Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot in England, where she started at odds of 15-8.
But after she got boxed in with a quarter-mile remaining, Magical was unable to produce a winning rally and settled for third place, 2 3/4 lengths behind the winner.
It wasn’t a bad effort, but it was clearly a regression from her summer form, which included Group 1 wins in the Pretty Polly, Tattersalls Gold Cup, and Irish Champion.
After she rattled off victories in the Dance Smartly (G2) and TVG S. during the summer, Theodora B. appeared to have the credentials of a legitimate Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) contender.
But the frontrunning daughter of Ghostzapper faltered without an obvious excuse in Sunday’s E. P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine, where she weakened steadily to finish fifth, 5 1/4 lengths behind the winner.
Now it’s unclear what the future might hold for Theodora B.