How to bet the 2022 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint
Based on the first four editions of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1), it isn’t hard to draw conclusions about the types of horses who excel (or not) in the super-quick grass dash.
Trainer Wesley Ward finished second in the inaugural running in 2018, then sent out the winners in 2019, 2020, and 2021. Surely Ward trainees warrant abundant respect? And a European raider has yet to win the Juvenile Turf Sprint, so clearly they’re at a disadvantage in this fast-paced American sprint.
But is four races really a large enough sample size for drawing definite conclusions? Three-year-old fillies failed to reach the winner’s circle in the first 11 editions of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), and just when it seemed like older mares held an insurmountable advantage…sophomores won three editions in a row from 2018-20.
So when the Juvenile Turf Sprint is contested for the fifth time on Friday at Keeneland, instead of tossing the Europeans from consideration and keying Ward’s flashy Bolton Landing S. winner #2 Love Reigns (4-1) on all our tickets, why don’t we think outside the box and play the European raider #6 Persian Force (15-1)?
The first four editions of the Juvenile Turf Sprint have been won in gate-to-wire fashion, but there’s an almost freakish amount of speed entered in the 2022 field. An intense battle for early supremacy figures to unfold, especially since four of the key speedsters—#9 Sharp Aza Tack (15-1), #10 Tyler’s Tribe (15-1), #11 Speed Boat Beach (6-1), and #12 The Platinum Queen (7-2)—have drawn the four outside post positions. They’ll have to come barreling out of the starting gate to avoid a wide run around the turn, which may force the inside-drawn Love Reigns to run hard as well to avoid getting buried in traffic.
A pace meltdown might be just what the doctor ordered for Persian Force. He’s cracked the trifecta in three straight Group 1 races sprinting six furlongs in Europe, most notably finishing second by half a length against top juvenile sprinter Blackbeard in the Prix Morny (G1).
Persian Force has been competing over straight courses, and negotiating a left-handed bend in the Juvenile Turf Sprint is a meaningful obstacle he’ll have to conquer. But Persian Force has enough tactical speed to avoid getting completely sprinted off his feet early, and the strong form he’s shown traveling six furlongs should help him produce a big finishing kick while cutting back to 5 1/2 furlongs under 14-time Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey Frankie Dettori.
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We’ll also play Persian Force with Love Reigns and Speed Boat Beach in the exacta, counting on Persian Force to finish either first or second. If his 15-1 morning line odds hold up, the exacta should pay well either way.
- $10 to win on #6 Persian Force
- $5 Exacta: 6 with 2,11 ($10)
- $5 Exacta: 2,11 with 6 ($10)