When writing my early preview for the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, I didn’t expect that last year’s place and show horses would not draw into this year’s race and be relegated to the also-eligible list.
But Lady Shipman and Green Mask are both on the outside looking in after hitting the board in the previous running of the Turf Sprint. I didn’t think either could win, but they could have taken some public money away from some of the other entries.
But enough about who is not (currently) in the race, let’s look at the runners in my order of preference:
2-Obviously (6-1 morning line odds)
Having emphasized in my earlier preview that true contenders in this race should have run the quirky downhill turf course at Santa Anita at least once in their careers, I’ve landed on Obviously as my top choice.
I don’t usually like eight-year-old geldings as top choices in many races, let alone Breeders’ Cup races, but sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to make a play.
He’s run at Santa Anita 13 times in 28 races, with three tries on the downhill turf — finishing second in a Grade III race, while winning and also placing second in two optional claimer tries.
His speed figures measure up to the best in this field, his trainer/jockey combination (Philip D’Amato/Flavian Prat) has been profitable, and the horse has the speed to stick with what should be a very fast rendition of the Turf Sprint.
Look for Obviously to get near the lead with the horse to his inside, Pure Sensation, as well as Home of The Brave, Karar and Celestine.
Note that although a lot of times outside horses have an edge on this course because of the downhill run then the sharp turn into the grass homestretch, the early inside speed combined with a lack of speed from the middle of the gate will put Obviously and Pure Sensation in the proverbial “driver’s seat”, allowing each a chance to hold on for victory.
If we can get 4-to-1 or more on Obviously at post-time, he will be worth a play.
Om doesn’t have the gate speed as the others identified above, but since many of the horses to his left in the starting gate don’t either, jockey Gary Stevens (who has plenty of experience on this course) only has to slip behind Celestine in the early stages of the race to get into a good stalking position — something his horse does well.
This Munnings colt is set up for a beautiful trip, where he has to just sit off the brisk early cavalry charge, then bolt for home after the sharp turn.
Expecting some of the front-runners to burn out like they are apt to do in these races, Om may be the hardest charger near the wire — worth a play on top in exotic wagers and in multi-race bets (note that Saturday’s pick-6 starts with this race).
Another early speed contender in the B.C. Turf Sprint, Celestine finished third behind Photo Call and Tepin in her last outing and takes on the boys in her first attempt at Santa Anita.
Had she run here before, and if trainer William Mott wasn’t putting Joel Rosario aboard for his first time aboard the Scat Daddy filly, I think she’d be the race winner. The two unknowns makes me keep her in the mix (on top in exotics, a play in the multis) but I’m not as bullish on her as on the two listed above.
1-Pure Sensation (5-1)
Leading the rest of the entries that I think can hit the board, but probably will not win the race is Pure Sensation.
Although he may not win the race, his early speed will be a key factor that puts him in a position to hit the board.
Coming into the Breeders’ Cup on a three-race winning streak coupled with his speed on the form will attract win money, which could help the payouts on win bets, but hurt the prices on exactas and trifectas.
8-Washington DC (8-1)
Trainer Aiden O’Brien is always a force to be reckoned with during the Breeders’ Cup — this race is no exception. It’s hard to discount Washington DC’s chances at hitting the board, something he has done eleven out of fifteen times in his career, most recently in Group 1 and Group 2 events.
His only knock is that he’s never raced in North America, let alone on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course, but first time North American starters is something right up O’Brien’s alley. He’s a wildcard here, but I’m betting that he doesn’t win.
9-A Lot (8-1)
There are a lot of things not to like about this one’s chances to win here: a 77-day layoff, never running at Santa Anita, never running a race at 6-½ furlongs, not having the requisite speed to stay close to the in this race, etc.
But, he’s a four-year-old Tapit son trained by Chad Brown, piloted by Javier Castellano and he’s shown an ability to split and pass horses — something that not all horses can do, and a trait that is very admirable in these kinds of races.
Don’t forget about A Lot when filling out exotics.
Undrafted is the last of the horses I will seriously consider in exotic bets, not based upon his recent form, but due to his ability to kick it up a notch late in races.
Since the pace here will be very brisk, he could be passing the tail-end of the top-tier late.
At double-digit odds, he’ll do no more than help with exotic payouts. Not a contender.
4-Home of The Brave (12-1)
Speedy. Has some class.
This one has only won once in his last twelve tries, never in North America, and missed the board in his only try at 6-½ furlongs
3-Mongolian Saturday (12-1)
Two cool things about Mongolian Saturday: he won this race last year, and his owners (Mongolian Stable) will be the best-dressed owners you will see all weekend at Santa Anita. Google it.
This one’s ship has sailed, as he’s on the downward slope of his career.
10-Ambitious Brew (10-1)
This winner of one of the two divisions of the Grade III Eddie D. stakes doesn’t have the class to compete with the contenders; definitely a “horse for the course,” but not against these.
13-Holy Lute (10-1)
See Ambitious Brew.
6-Calgary Cat (20-1)
Much too slow. He can close, but he’ll be so many lengths back early that he’s not a factor.
As mentioned, he will be in the early speed mix, but his lack of class, as well as experience is to his detriment.
I’d prefer this one as an also-eligible to Lady Shipman. That way there’d be more dead money in the pools.
In my early preview, I tabbed Hunt (IRE) as a longshot for the B.C. Turf Sprint.
Hunt is a “horse for the course” who just so happens to be entered in a race on Breeders’ Cup Friday on the Santa Anita downhill turf course: the Damascus Stakes (Race 4, post time 1:10 PT).
A 12-1 shot on the morning line, don’t be surprised if he gets bet down to 5-1, but I prefer him over the morning line favorite Prospect Park. Play Hunt to win, place and show, as well as a key in a 4/ALL exacta and hope that Prospect Park runs out for a nice payoff should Hunt get the job done.