Early Look: Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – November 6th, 2021
By: Michael Domabyl
The second Breeders’ Cup on the schedule for Saturday is the always enthralling turf sprint which is one of a few of the year-end championship events where the configuration of the race greatly depends on the host venue. At Del Mar, the race is at a sharp five furlong trip and it will be important for handicappers to decide which horses will be suited best to this style of turf sprint. This comes in contrast to the 5.5 furlong versions of this event or the unique configuration of Santa Anita’s downhill turf course that has played host to the affair in years past.
One of the major storylines headed into this race will be the showdown between two Breeders’ Cup victors from last fall at Keeneland. Glass Slippers (GB) (#1) looks to defend her Turf Sprint title and comes into the race off three third-place finishes in the summer and fall overseas. She’s certainly capable on her best day, but I question whether she’s in as sharp of form as she came into this race last year. A Case of You (Ire) (#6) might go off the more fancied European entrant off the backs of a determined win in the prep for this at Longchamp, but we’ll see if this three-year-old colt can take to the American-style of racing with firm ground almost a certainty.
Despite being a renowned turf sprint trainer, Wesley Ward remains winless to this point in the 13-year history of this race. He’ll send out a three-pronged attack with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal (#3) a candidate for favoritism in this event. After a disappointing effort at York in August, this well-bred colt returned stateside for a resolute victory in the Woodford at Keeneland. At the top of the lane, it looked like his pace rival might be getting the better of him, but he shot away in the stretch en route to an open-length victory over some hard-knocking veterans including the classy Extravagant Kid #12). His positional speed will suit him well in a race that has historically favored those on or near the lead when it’s run at this distance.
While I wouldn’t want any part of Ward’s Arrest Me Red (#5) off a dressed up victory setting a slow pace at Belmont last time, Wesley’s third runner Kimari (#9) is a bit of a wild card in this spot. While she started her career as a promising turf sprinter, she’s shown that she’s adept across all surfaces and Ward was quoted as saying she would’ve tackled Gamine in the F&M Sprint if given more time in preparation. However, this is no cakewalk either and Kimari will have to show up with the best turf sprint effort of her career if she’s to hit the board in this spot.
I think there is a dangerous outsider in this spot that can spoil the party of the past Breeders’ Cup champions. Lieutenant Dan (#4) has been in roaring form since returning to the races for Steve Miyadi and has the benefit of winning over this course and distance twice this summer. Perhaps he can sit perched off the speed of Golden Pal and use that homecourt advantage to drive past in the lane.
No matter the configuration, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is always among the most exciting races of the weekend with its lightning-quick nature and occasional sub-:21 opening quarter mile. With a pair of returning Breeders’ Cup winners, the stage is set for yet another barnburner.