Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, California, will be the center of the horse racing universe on November 4th and 5th for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The two-day event is the culmination of the thoroughbred racing season here in North America. Casual racing fans may believe the Triple Crown races are the high point of our racing year, but close followers know full well that there is a crowded summer schedule, packed with first-rate action, which culminates at the Breeders’ Cup.
One of the races on the schedule, and the one that I have been given the assignment of covering for HRN, is the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. Run at the very demanding distance of 7-furlongs, it features a purse of $1 million up for grabs.
The Filly and Mare Sprint was inaugurated in 2007 when the Breeders' Cup was expanded to two days. Since then, only two favorites, Groupie Doll and Judy The Beauty, have won this event. Last year's race was won by 10/1 shot Wavell Avenue. The $22 payout on the Chad Brown trained runner was the second highest in the 9-year history of the event. The highest return was in 2011 when Musical Romance paid $42.40 to her supporters. The shortest return was in 2012 when Groupie Doll returned $3.40. The average winning price on this G1 event through nine running's stands at $15.
Prior to expansion of the Breeders' Cup, females competed and sometimes won vs. boys in the Sprint, but now they have their own race to fight it out for the championship. In 2009, the race was designated Grade 1 status.
The initial running in 2007 at Monmouth Park, featured the shortest field with 6 runners. Due to the configuration of the host track, the event was contested at six furlongs. That was the only time in its history the race was held shorter than seven furlongs. In contrast, the 2015 edition had the largest field with 14 horses going postward.
Early speed has not been the key to winning the Filly & Mare Sprint. In the nine editions, the pacesetter has finished 3rd, 5th, 7th, 10th, 11th, 8th, 5th, 4th and 2nd in this test of swiftness.
A 3-year-old has never won the Filly and Mare Sprint, but that could end this year as there's a stellar cast of top notch sophomores eyeing this race.
The Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland has been a final key prep for the Filly and Mare Sprint. In four of the past seven years, Informed Decision, Dubai Majesty, Groupie Doll and Judy The Beauty all won the TCA before having BC success, while Musical Romance was TCA runner-up by a head. So, with this prep coming up on Saturday, I suggest keeping the winner and close-up finishers in mind going forward toward Championship Day.
The lineup for the Filly & Mare Sprint, as well as all the Breeders’ Cup races are still somewhat unclear, but by the pre-entry deadline on October 24th, we’ll have a pretty good idea who’s going to compete where. I will have a full preview of the race once the field is set. But for the time being, according to the official Breeders' Cup website at press time, here's an alphabetical list of possible starters for this race.
By The Moon (Beat the defending F/M Sprint champ two back)
*Carina Mia (Acorn winner was twice runner-up to queen Songbird )
*Cathryn Sophia (Classy, consistent and knows how to win races.)
*Dearest (Sophomore gal has 4 wins from 6 starts)
Enchanting Lady (Affinity for S.A. surface, but this is G1 now)
Finest City (California horse is 0-6 at Santa Anita)
Haveyougoneaway (Ballerina winner in-the-money 15 of last 16)
*Lewis Bay (Versatile and always in the mix every time she runs)
*Lightstream (3-yr old filly was denied late in the Test Stakes)
Living The Life (Experienced over the S.A. track, but prefers synthetics)
*Nemoralia (G3 winner in Europe prefers sod under her feet rather than dirt)
*Off The Tracks (3-race losing streak has this sophomore looking to get back on track)
*Paola Queen (3-yr old was first in the Test and last in the Beldame)
Paulassilverling (Speedy filly needs to transfer her excellent NY form to Calif.)
Sarah Sis (Has 5 graded stakes wins in her career, but none of the G1 variety)
Spelling Again (BC Challenge winner is well traveled this year)
Stonetastic (This race will be her swan song)
Tara's Tango (Absolutely loves the Santa Anita surface)
Vale Dori (Stakes-placed in her first attempt against graded competition in States)
Wavell Avenue (Defending champ also used Gallant Bloom last year as final tune up)
* - Denotes 3-yr old