Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
By Eric Solomon
The first Breeders’ Cup race of the day on Saturday is the race that has the shortest field and some of the least compelling storylines. The question in this race is simply; are any of the six other rivals good enough to dethrone the queen of this division, Gamine? She’s never lost a one turn race in eight career tries, with five of those wins coming in Grade 1 company. On one hand, her speed figures indicate that she hasn’t been as dominant in her four year old season as she was in 2020. However, the counterpoint is that no one has really tested her this year.
Lake Avenue and Sconsin, neither of which entered into this race, got kind of close, but at no point did it ever feel like Gamine was going to lose one of those races. The most likely challenge is likely going to come early from Bella Sofia, who is an exciting, New York based, three year old filly sprinter, who has been a dominating winner in four of her first five career starts. I really liked her effort in the Test two starts ago, because she showed that she can still run a big race without being on the lead. She broke well in that race, but allowed Illumination, who broke from the rail, to take the early lead. She rated very kindly in that race and she responded well when she was asked the question. She proved that effort was not a fluke when she beat three older rivals in the Gallant Bloom at Belmont in September.
Lake Avenue, who was all out to be second to Gamine in the Ballerina, couldn’t get close to Bella Sofia that day. The horse that might get the best setup in this race is Ce Ce. She’s floated back and forth between being a one turn or a two turn horse. Her Apple Blossom effort last year was excellent, winning a loaded Grade 1 race while breaking from Post 14. However, she didn’t win another race after that until April of this year. Four of her five races in 2021 have been in one turn sprints, and she won a pair of graded stakes in doing so. She came within three lengths of Gamine in the Ballerina, when Gamine was allowed to set a dawdling quarter of 23:1.
I think the pace will be more honest in this race, and closers have done well at 7 Furlongs on the Del Mar main track. If the track is playing fair, she’ll be worth a long look and the only question will be if she’s good enough.