TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Preview
1: CAVORTING (3-1) has several legitimate knocks against her, most notably having to break from post 14. Another reason to be wary is she's a three-year-old taking on older for the first time, and no sophomore has won this race since its inauguration in 2007. Why pick her then? Unless the track winds up biased against her closing style, she figures to get an ideal setup with several rivals battling early and, presumably, wearing themselves out in the process. She's far less exposed than virtually everyone else in the field, and seven-eighths appears to suit her better than most. Aside from a couple clunkers at Belmont and Gulfstream, all she's wanted to do is win, and the McLaughlin barn has won at a high percentage throughout the Keeneland meet.
2: TARIS (12-1) brings California-style speed to the table, which potentially could prove too much for the likes of La Verdad and Stonetastic to keep up with. However, dealing with those rivals for too long is also likely to hinder her chances as well. Unlike that pair she's won over this track and distance, and in highly impressive fashion when taking the 2014 Raven Run (G2) by nine lengths in 1:21 1/5. She hasn't come close to replicating that kind of speed in two earlier starts this season, but could be sitting on a big race as a relatively fresh horse.
3: ARTEMIS AGROTERA (20-1) was a dominating winner of the Test (G1) last season and then edged La Verdad by a head after a tremendous late close in the Gallant Bloom H. (G2). In other words, there's no doubting her class. The obvious knock is that she hasn't started since finishing seventh in this race a year ago at Santa Anita. It would be an unbelievable training feat by Mike Hushion if he could have this filly win a race like this off a 364-day break, but my gut instinct tells me she's going to look like a short horse in the end. With that said, I wouldn't put it past her to grab a significant share. Remember the example of Gilded Time -- the 1992 Juvenile (G1) winner did not race again until the following year's Sprint (G1), and turned in a remarkable effort to finish third, only a half-length behind the winning Cardmania.
Longshot: ROOM FOR ME (15-1), an astute claim for owner-trainer David Jacobson last winter at Santa Anita, ran La Verdad to a half-length in the Vagrancy H. (G3) in May and later captured a small stakes at Monmouth, both times employing a stalk-and-pounce strategy. Lately, the five-year-old has tried pressing tactics to no avail. If she can rate a little more off the pace, she can be one of those who benefits from a possible speed meltdown.
(Cavorting photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography)