Sunday’s 6-furlong Grade I $300,000 Nearctic Stakes at
Woodbine marks the final of 4 “Win and You’re In” races for the
Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, and draws an evenly matched group of 11. Though a
handful of runners will make the trip regardless of the outcome Sunday, the
guaranteed birth is a nice bonus for any connections that were on the fence
about a trip to Santa Anita next month. Here’s a look lineup by post position
Langstaff is a 3-year-old Ontario-bred gelding making his
first start against open and older company. Expect Langstaff to be one of the
longest shots in the field given the extreme jump in class. This late runner would
need an absolute pace meltdown to be victorious.
Bear Tough Tiger is the first of a trio of entrants from
Bear Stables LTD and trainer Reade Baker. Off since August, Bear Tough Tiger
runs well fresh and was a close 3rd in this spot last year. Though
others look better, he should be respected at a price.
Fatal Bullet was a game 2nd in 2008 BC Sprint,
but that was a long time ago. It appears that the 8-year-old gelding has lost a
step and appears overmatched against this tough field.
Longhunter is regarded as one best turf sprinters east of
the Mississippi River with 4 wins in his last 5 turf sprints. Fresh off his win in
the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash, Longhunter retains the services of Alan Garcia
for the same connections (Ramsey Farm/Mike Maker) when he guided Real Solution to
victory in this year's Arlington Million.
Phil’s Dream is a Canadian-bred sprinter who was a winner in
his only turf try. Though he appears slightly overmatched, he always sits a good
trip just off the speed, so don’t be surprised see him get a piece.
Bear No Joke is also returning from an August break. He
appears to need the lead for any chance to win, and there are others in here
with more early speed. His chances for a win seem highly unlikely.
Strong Impact is a very consistent (10-3-4-0) turf sprinter
invading from Belmont Park. Last out Strong Impact got the dreaded rail post
when going 5 furlongs at Parx. He was off a step slow, but rallied to
respectively split the field. Before that, Strong Impact defeated Longhunter in
the Fiddler’s Patriot Stakes at Saratoga last July. Strong Impact should make
just that on this field.
Mr. Online was a ho-hum turf router, but really woke up with a cut back to sprinting last out. He was worn down in the final strides by
fan favorite Ben’s Cat at Laurel Park, and should move up off that effort with
a trip back to his home track. A repeat of his last makes Mr. Online a major player on Sunday.
Excaper is a horse for course, but tends to have a bit of
seconditis in him as evidenced by his (14-3-6-1) lifetime record. He appears to
be the speed of the speed, and the cutback to 6 furlongs should only benefit
him. Excaper has been training well for this and needs to be included in all
Tripski is a recent claim for the red-hot Chad Brown barn.
He returns from a August layoff, and the 6-year-old son of Trippi does his best
running off the bench. Brown is known for his layoff runners firing fresh, so
expect a top effort from this longshot.
Riding the River comes out of the toughest races, but this may be too short for him. He's a multiple
graded stakes winner at 8 and 9 furlongs, but only has 1 win in 3 tries at 6 furlongs,
and that winning effort was not quick enough to make him competitive against
Selections: Strong Impact- Excaper-Tripski-Mr. Online