Saturday, October 29, 2011

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint

One of the newer additions to the Breeders’ Cup, the Turf Sprint features quick-footed turf horses that will run this race in likely less than a minute. Over the lush green grass that Kentucky Derby winners walk across to reach the winner’s circle, turf sprinters will exhibit their brilliance. Who will be crowned the champion?
Here are my top four picks for the Turf Sprint:
1. Caracortado: Yes, Caracortado is entered in the Turf Sprint. The hard-knocking California-bred gelding, who has not raced at a distance shorter than a mile since his third-place finish in the Malibu Stakes (GI) in December, will run in the five furlong grass race. “Scarface” seems to be the class of the field, having earned nearly half a million dollars this year.
Caracortado, who has been one of my personal favorites since December of his two-year-old year, is coming off a nose victory over a talented three-year-old named Mr. Commons in the Del Mar Mile Handicap (GI). The son of Cat Dreams has had his best performances on the turf, as he has won two stakes (one of which was graded) on the turf course, placed second in two turf grade ones, and finished third in one turf grade one. He has only finished out of the money once on the turf.
Caracortado is four for five at distances of seven furlongs or shorter and has never finished out of the money at such distances. The five-furlong distance of the Turf Sprint should not be a problem for Caracortado. The chestnut four-year-old broke his maiden at four and one-half furlongs and is two-for-two at the distance of six furlongs. Look for him to come roaring down the stretch on November 5.
2. Havelock: Keeneland’s beautiful fall meet provided Havelock with his first graded victory. In his final prep for the Breeders’ Cup, the son of Great Notion drew clear to win the Woodford Stakes (GIII) at five and one-half furlongs on the turf. He traveled the final sixteenth in an impressive 6.17 seconds. He clearly can handle the conditions of the Turf Sprint, but he will have to give it his all against Caracortado.

3. Regally Ready: I’m not quite as confident in this four-year-old gelding as I am in my top two, but except for one extremely disappointing performance this year, Regally Ready has not finished off the board. He’s coming off a win over a yielding Woodbine turf course in the Neartic Stakes (GI), in which he battled to hang on. I worry that the race took too much out of him, but the son of More Than Ready is training well for Steve Asmussen. The chestnut is already at Churchill Downs, but he doesn’t need to worry about adjusting. He is undefeated over the Churchill turf course, having race there twice. Both races were at the distance of five furlongs. The fact that he’s already had two races under the same conditions as the Turf Sprint gives him an edge.
4. Broken Dreams: This mare has never faced colts, but she has faced the best female turf sprinters in California and done battle with them. In her last start, Broken Dreams finished first in the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes (GIII), defeating a field that was made up of Givine, Tanda, Unzip Me, Separate Forest, and Waveline. Broken Dreams, a five-year-old Florida-bred, will come into the race with much confidence, as she has finished off the board just three times this year and has given a tremendous effort in nearly every 2011 start. Plus, she has a slight edge over many of the others. She has already raced five furlongs over the Churchill turf course, when she finished a good second in an allowance race last spring in just her second start. Broken Dreams is improving and though she will face males for the first time, she’ll likely give it her all.

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