Who is the best turf sprinter of the 2010s?

Profile Picture: Rowan Ward

July 20th, 2021

With Golden Pal's romp in the Quick Call S. (G3) on opening day at Saratoga, the three-year-old son of Uncle Mo has emerged as a new star of the turf sprint division.

The division has experienced a meteoric rise in North America in the last decade, with an increase in the number of graded stakes and a commensurate increase in attention among racing fans.

Let's look back at the best North American turf sprinters of the last decade or so. Then, let us know — who is the best?

Chamberlain Bridge

A poll is always more fun with a dark-horse candidate, and since we're going alphabetically, we'll get to the longshot first.

Chamberlain Bridge raced just before the turf sprint division started to garner much attention, but he was very good for several years.

He won his first stakes in 2008, the Woodford S. at Keeneland. It was only listed then, but was graded the next year. From 2008 through 2012, Chamberlain Bridge won at least one turf sprint stakes race per year. Those wins included the Aegon Turf Sprint S. (G3) (now the Twin Spires Turf Sprint) in 2009, as well as the 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G2), when he came flying to win by 1 1/2 lengths, over Central City.

Chamberlain Bridge won 19 races from 53 starts and earned $1.95 million.

Disco Partner

The Jaipur S. (G1) has emerged as the most important turf sprint race of the first half of the racing season, and in the late 2010s, the Jaipur belonged to Disco Partner.

He finished second, beaten a neck, behind his stablemate, Pure Sensation, in the 2016 Jaipur. He won a pair of listed stakes over the following year, then burned up the turf in the 2017 Jaipur, in a world-record time of 1:05.67 for the six furlongs. He repeated in the Jaipur the next year. 

Disco Partner was a six-furlong dynamo. Though the Breeders' Cup races were too short, only five or 5 1/2 furlongs in his heyday, Disco Partner turned in honest efforts there, too — a pair of third-place finishes behind Stormy Liberal in 2017 and 2018.

Lady Aurelia

In her debut at Keeneland in April of 2016, Lady Aurelia looked like she could be something special, and she was.

She won the Queen Mary S. (G2) with dazzling acceleration, like she had rockets built into her horseshoes, and won the Prix Morny (G1) at age two as well.

She began her three-year-old season with a romp against older in the Giant's Causeway S., at a time of year when so few American sophomores challenge elders. That set her up for more Ascot glory, an open-lengths win in the King's Stand S. (G1).

Though she did not win again in four more starts, she retired a multiple Grade 1 winner and a multiple Royal Ascot winner.

Lady Shipman

More than any other horse of her time, Lady Shipman made it clear that the turf sprint division needed more graded stakes. In an era when most of the graded turf sprints were down the hill at Santa Anita, she was a conventional turf sprinter.

Lady Shipman was a dynamo at five and 5 1/2 furlongs, and even stretched out to six to win the Royal North S. (G3) at Woodbine, which was shockingly her only graded win during her 13-for-21 career.

She came close to Breeders' Cup glory in 2015 at Keeneland, where she held her own against the boys but missed by just a neck to longshot Mongolian Saturday. Though she never got her Breeders' Cup victory, her first foal, Golden Pal, won the 2020 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G2).

Stormy Liberal

The Eclipse Award for champion turf horse almost never goes to a sprinter, but Stormy Liberal bucked that trend.

He emerged in the stakes ranks in early 2017, when he won four straight stakes over the Santa Anita downhill course during the winter and spring. Then, he shocked the world when he won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at 30-1.

Though 2018 started with some disappointment, with second-place finishes in both the Daytona S. (G3) and Al Quoz Sprint (G1), before a sixth in the Jaipur, the second half of his season went far better.

He won four straight, capped by a win in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint to become the first horse since Mizdirection to win it twice.

Who is the best turf sprinter of the 2010s?