Favorites' chances vary in three Breeders' Cup sprints

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

October 23rd, 2015

An overview of the three sprints on Breeders’ Cup Saturday suggests all of them might play out very differently for bettors. The $1.5 million Sprint (G1) could very well be dominated by its two favorites, the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) is slightly more contentious in the absence of a divisional standout, and the $1 million Turf Sprint (G1) might be the best betting race of the entire weekend with few automatic tosses. Sprint

Private Zone and Runhappy are clearly the leading sprinters in training and could very well dominate the proceedings, although each has a potential liability. Private Zone enters fresh having not run since late in the Saratoga meet, but has often seemed better suited to seven furlongs or a mile. Runhappy, a local fan favorite that might be overbet, has been able to overcome several slow starts this season but can’t afford to dig himself another hole against the best field he’s met all season. California invader Masochistic, along with East Coasters Favorite Tale and Limousine Liberal, are also capable of adding a lot of fuel to the pace.

There’s an abundance of decent closers in the field, too, including multiple Grade 1 winner Wild Dude and Kobe’s Back, who won over the Keeneland strip in the seven-furlong Commonwealth (G3) last April. Another Californian who might contend with his best is Big Macher, who lost all chance in last year’s Sprint after stumbling at the start.

Three-year-olds Barbados and Holy Boss were easily handled by Runhappy in the Phoenix (G3), but might have been compromised a bit by the off track. Salutos Amigos has a good closing kick, although he’s been a less-dominant figure outside the Aqueduct winter meet. Ivan Fallunovalot has been meeting softer opposition this season, but as Work All Week showed last year that’s not necessarily a disqualifying factor in this race.

Filly & Mare Sprint

The likely defection of La Verdad is perhaps a good move for the mare, who probably would have had trouble getting seven furlongs against a field like this, but it also removes a horse a number of bettors were probably waiting in anticipation to beat at a short price.

The horse to catch in La Verdad’s absence might be Stonetastic, the pacesetter in last year’s Filly & Mare Sprint. Although she weakened to fourth at Santa Anita, she enters this year’s edition relatively fresh and off a much stronger final prep.

Reigning champion Judy the Beauty doesn’t quite seem the mare she was last year. She hasn’t been embarrassed in any of her three losses, but suffered her first ever defeat over the Keeneland main track last time to the unheralded Fioretti, which might be telling.

Cavorting has looked very strong winning her last three starts, including the seven-furlong Test (G1), but must prove she can handle older fillies and mares for the first time in this spot. Super Majesty, who has won three of four including the Dogwood (G3) is another three-year-old to watch.

Taris was awesome in winning the course-and-distance Raven Run (G2) a year ago and might perk up on the return to Kentucky. It would be an incredible training feat if Michael Hushion gets Artemus Agrotera to the winner’s circle off a one-year-layoff, and she has the class and talent to do so. Dame Dorothy seemingly needs a career-best effort to win.

Turf Sprint

Course-and-distance specialists have tended to dominate this race wherever it’s been run. Lady Shipman turned in a remarkable effort when just missing by a head to Ageless in the $100,000 Franklin County a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, Ageless exited the race with a minor injury and has since been ruled out of the Turf Sprint. Lady Shipman, a three-year-old filly, is still a go at this writing and may prove tough to catch if the local sod continues to stay very firm.

Something Extra and Sharp Sensation were both compromised when the Woodford (G3) was taken off the turf earlier this month. Neither are world class, but they’ve both run very well on this course in the past.

Trying the local lawn for the first time are distance specialists Pure Sensation, Ready for Rye, and Mongolian Saturday, all of whom enter in excellent current form. Green Mask, who wasn’t beaten that far in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) in Dubai last spring, could improve in his second start back in the States.

The 5 1/2-furlong distance this year might be too short for the likes of Channel Marker and the classy Undrafted, a Group 1 winner in England for Wesley Ward. You can probably toss in reigning Turf Sprint winner Bobby’s Kitten in that group, too, although his form in a brief campaign this term has been disappointing anyway.

(Runhappy photo: Keeneland/Coady Photography)