There is less than four months to go before the Breeders’ Cup fireworks are lit at Keeneland, and interest is already building fast as the ‘win-and-in’ races unearth contenders and the big names maintain their progress towards the world championships. In our weekly overview of the BC scene we examine the possibilities of the G1 Turf Sprint, won last year in scintillating style by Golden Pal, who is hot favorite to win it again. Here our BC Turf Sprint preview.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
Grade 1, $1,000,000, 5 1/2f turf, 3yo+, Keeneland, November 5
Although this is a turf race, the European challenge usually comes up empty, and only once in the race’s 14-year history have the dollars gone for export. The focus should therefore be on the home defence, and there’s only one place to begin.
In last year’s BC Turf Sprint, Golden Pal produced one of the performances of the year, coming out of the gate as though he was fired out of a cannon and running his rivals into the ground. The winning margin of a length and a quarter was no indication of his superiority. The four-year-old has failed miserably on his last two trips to Britain – not helped last time by a poor ride from Irad Ortiz – but is unbeaten in his last six at home and is three-for-three at Keeneland.
BC Turf Sprint runner-up Lieutenant Dan has not been seen since, which raises a query over his wellbeing, while last year’s fifth A Case Of You, seventh Kimari – who prefers going further – and last of 12 Caravel, who struggles in open company but excels against her own sex, all have plenty to find with the runaway Golden Pal.
Wesley Ward has plenty of options in his barn besides Golden Pal, with the flying filly Campanelle showing much more aptitude for foreign fields than her barnmate. Her performance to run a dead-heat third in the six-furlong G1 Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot last time was very creditable, and she won over the BC Turf Sprint course and distance on her first run of 2022.
Ward also has the improving Arrest Me Red, who won the G2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs before going under in the six-furlong G1 Jaipur at Belmont Park by a half-length to Casa Creed, who was going back-to-back in the race at his favorite track. Casa Creed is just as capable at a mile, so cutting back to five and a half furlongs may not bring out the best in him.
The best five-furlong sprinter in the world is probably the Australian ace Nature Strip, but he will be staying at home for the $15m Everest rather than chasing relative slim pickings at Keeneland. Among the Europeans, the multiple G1 winner Perfect Power is best between six and seven furlongs, while Godolphin’s Platinum Jubilee one-two Naval Crown and Creative Force both run in the G1 July Cup at Newmarket on Saturday, so a watching brief is advised.
If there is a British horse who could become a contender it’s the very progressive Raasel, a five-furlong specialist who racked up his eighth victory in his last ten starts when winning a G3 at Sandown Park last week, his biggest success to date. He needs to improve plenty to figure at Breeders’ Cup level, but he hasn’t found his ceiling yet.
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint odds courtesy of Jazzsports
|Arrest Me Red||+1200|
|A Case Of You||+1600|
Follow us on Social Media for BC Turf Sprint updates!