By Anthny Stabile
$1 million; 6 ½ furlongs (T); 3up
While most had been crying out for the Breeders’ Cup to add this event for years, it didn’t happen until 2008, when Desert Code stormed down the hill to pay $75 in a shocker. Since that event, three of five favorites have won, making it one of the most formful races to be run at the World Championships.
For you patriots out there, you’ll be happy to know that a U.S. runner has won each of the six runnings while the ladies will be thrilled to find out that the only two time winner of the event is Mizdirection, the fabulous race mare that won the last two renewals.
While Mizdirection has been retired and won’t be going for the Goldikova-like three-peat, fellow filly Reneesgotzip and Tightend Touchdown, who dead-heated for place in last years’ event, are among the record 29 pre-entries for the race this year and figure to play a big role in this donnybrook.
Also third in the 2012 Turf Sprint, Reneesgotzip has raced just twice since missing by a half-length in this last year. A third place finish in the G3 Rancho Bernardo to the talented Judy the Beauty was followed by a romp in a restricted stakes, both over the Polytrack at Del Mar for trainer Peter Miller.
Tightend Touchdown has won just one of his four starts since this event last year, a minor stakes at Penn National, for trainer Jason Servis but did finish second by a nose to mid-Atlantic stalwart Ben’s Cat in the G3 Parx Dash before rallying for third in the G3 Turf Monster, also at Parx, last time out. It’s worth noting that Tightend Touchdown has had ample time between starts this year and will be running off of nearly a two month layoff.
Sophomore colt No Nay Never has had a brief yet interesting five race career. As a juvenile, he broke his maiden at first asking at Keeneland before winning the G2 Norfolk at the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in England and the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville in France. This year, he was second in the G2 Swale back in March before returning from a seven month layoff to wire the G3 Woodford over the turf at Keeneland to run his record over the lawn to a perfect 3 for 3.
Trainer Wesley Ward will send out No Nay Never as well as Undrafted. Just one for six on the season, his win came at Belmont in the G3 Jaipur. He was second in the G3 Turf Sprint at Keeneland, fourth in the highly regarded G1 July Cup at Newmarket this summer and third last out in the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash.
Marchman has put together a solid season for Keith Desormeaux, one that has included wins in the G2 Shakertown at Keeneland and next out in the Turf Sprint over Undrafted. Though winless in three starts since, was second in the Jaipur and third in that three horse photo in the Parx Dash. Last out he was sixth in Woodford, his first start in nearly three months.
Bobby’s Kitten cuts back to a sprint for the first time in his career for trainer Chad Brown. Bobby’s Kitten and his connections actually started this season with Kentucky Derby aspirations but he’s made it abundantly clear that his home in on the turf, as evident by his score in the Penn Mile back in late May. Last out he tired to third after setting the pace in the G1 Woodbine Mile, his first start against older horses.
Another cutback in here is Silentio. Third to the great Wise Dan in the Mile last year, Silentio came back to win the G2 Citation later that month but is winless in four starts this year, including a third place finish in the G2 Pat O’Brien over the Polytrack at Del Mar in a race won by Goldencents. Now, trainer Gary Mandella will see if turf sprinting will turn him around.
Dimension got up by a neck to win the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash last out after breaking slowly, his first win in over a year for trainer Conor Murphy. Euro import Caspar Netscher was winless in nine starts in 2013 and 2014 then added Lasix for the G2 Nearctic at Woodbine last out and exploded through the lane to win for David Simcock. Something Extra was third in the Shakertown to start the season then won the G2 Highlander at Woodbine in early summer for Gail Cox.
Home Run Kitten is perfect in two starts down the hill for trainer David Hofmans after rallying from far back to win the G3 Eddie D last out. Sweet Swap has won half of his eight starts, including the G3 San Simeon when he was last seen for John Sadler in April, at this trip while Ambitious Brew, second by a nose in the Eddie D, has won four of his six starts at the trip with a pair of second place finishes. He’s trained by Martin Jones.
A pair of mares, Free as a Bird and Ageless, will look to follow in Mizdirection’s hoof prints. Trained by Ian Wilkes, Free as a Bird has won five in a row, all stakes against fillies and mares while Ageless, a hard charging second at Keeneland to Free as a Bird last out, won three in a row earlier in the year for Arnaud Delacour, including the G3 Royal North at Woodbine.
Finally, I feel 2011 Turf Sprint winner Regally Ready got the short end of the stick when he was relegated to SEVENTH on the alternates list. He’s won three stakes this season and five races overall. I know none of them have been sprinting but I think you need to give a former winner of the race some credit, especially at the age of 7.