I'll bet those of you who don't regularly watch racing or the Breeders Cup are wondering why the heck I'm doing another Mile and Sprint edition. Well over the last couple of years the Breeders Cup has been steadily expanding, in 2007 the addition of the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile was introduced and then in 2008 came the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint. So in this week's Breeders Cup post I will do a flip flop of surfaces and review the Dirt Mile and speed packed Turf Sprint.
Both races will be highly contentious races with some big time stars in each. In the Turf Sprint we have the record setting and blindingly fast California Flag. At age five this silver streak of lightning has raced twice and won each. In his last, the Grade three Morvich Handicap, California Flag led nearly the whole race, with a final time of 1.11.4, which is only .3 seconds off the record he set last year for the six and a half furlong even.
Hero's Reward, who also has some speed to offer will probably be running in this race. The seven year old has been as consistent as can be, running in the money five times out of seven starts. In his last start he ran third in the Maryland Million Sprint.
Who can forget last years stunning winner of the Turf Sprint, Desert Code. He has not been in as nearly as good of form as he was last year, his last start a well beaten seventh to California Flag in the Morvich Handicap. His lone win this year in four starts came Daytona Handicap. Though his form has less than stellar this year he still has that Grade one performance in him that could just come out in the Turf Sprint.
Lastly, comes the filly Lethal Heat. This filly has been playing second fiddle to California's top older female Zenyatta all year long. Her trainer is planning a double header by running her in the Ladies Classic on Friday then coming back in Saturday's Turf Sprint. This filly is no stranger to quick turn arounds or males. She ran two good runner-ups only one week apart from each other. The first was against males in the Cal Cup Classic, then she handled the quick turn around when second to Zenyatta in the Ladies Secret. This is a consistent and classy filly that will probably run in the money in both races if she is entered.
Now onto this year's edition of the Dirt Mile or what should be renamed the Godolphin Mile for this year. The reason I say that is because Godolphin Stables owns four of the main contenders in this race, Pyro, Girolamo, Midshipman, and Regal Ransom. Just as a side note, Regal Ransom is also being considered for the Classic, but it's more likely he'll race in the Mile.
Some of you may remember Pyro, he was last year's very early Derby favorite until he ran poorly over the poly track in the Blue Grass Stakes. He never seemed to really regain the form he had in his first half of the season after that race. In fact he ended up running off the board in last year's Dirt Mile, when running over the Pro-ride. This year he has been lightly raced, but a monster, running a first and second in his two races. His last out was a very impressive come from behind win in the Forego.
Girolamo has been as promising as they get and lived up to his hype when he overwhelmed Kensi in the Jerome Handicap. As a two year old he had mediocre record of one win in three starts, but this year he's been on a winning spree, going three for three.
We all remember the name Midshipman, who was the Breeders Cup Juvenile winner last year, among other races. After that race he was named Champion two year old and was sent to Dubai where his first half of the season was wasted. He has only had one race this year, which was an allowance optional claimer, which he won easily. He loves the track at Santa Anita and will be looking to win his second Breeders Cup race.
Last in the Godolphin line up is Regal Ransom. He is better known as the horse who kept finishing second to his stablemate Desert Party earlier this season. Regal Ransom did end up beating his rival in the UAE Derby. Though he did not perform very well in the KY Derby, he came back off a layoff to win the Super Derby in his last start. He is royally bred, and though his last start over this track was a disappointment, he is classy, talented, and royally bred. He merits a shot to win this race if entered.
Even though it does look like Godolphin has a strangle hold on this race there are a couple of horses who have enough class and talent to knock off their talented fleet. First comes Crown of Thorns, who is looking at both the Mile and Sprint, but will probably go in the Mile. He was second to the Godolphin monster Gayego in his last, but that one will be one of the main contenders in the Breeders Cup Sprint. Misremembered is a talented horse that may pull an upset if allowed to lope along on the lead without much pressure.
It's hard to believe that these races are just the appetizers to the main course, the Breeders Cup Classic. The though of such a talent packed day has ever horse racing fan salivating uncontrollably, and the bettors looking for all kinds of big plays. Though I'm not a fan of the synthetic tracks I cannot deny the fact that this will be one of the most exciting and action packed days of racing.
One the side I would just like to express my sympathies towards the connections of Icon Project. She was a talented filly who was just starting to find herself. It is a shame that her career was cut short just when she was looking like a super star. I hope she lives a long and happy retirement raising, what I'm sure will be, beautiful foals.