Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Six furlongs is the predominate distance for sprint races in America. More stakes races are run at that length than any other, and next month it will once again be the running distance of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, for the 30th time in 30 editions.
Visit the Breeders’ Cup website, and you will find the following description of one of the other 13 events of the World Championships:
The Filly & Mare Sprint is run around one turn at 7 furlongs (about 1,500 yards) for the fastest females, 3-years-old and older.
At first glance, it seems innocuous enough, but as far as this year’s edition, I wonder. Maybe the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, first run in 2007, is not for the fastest females, but rather the ones best equipped to handle the extra furlong of the elongated sprint distance of seven furlongs.
I have no reservations in calling Reneesgotzip the fleetest filly in all the land. In fact, you could probably drop the filly part of that statement, and the statement would still work. After finishing 2012 with a second place finish to Book Review in the Grade 1 La Brea (at seven furlongs), the four-year-old filly has absolutely blitzed her competition in her only two starts this year. Much the best in both, Reneesgotzip effectively ended those races in the first three furlongs, yet you likely will not see her in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
It’s no wonder that her trainer, Peter Miller, has decided to look elsewhere to other Breeders’ Cup opportunities for his star female sprinter. In the five editions of the Filly & Mare Sprint that have been run at seven furlongs (the 2007 edition was contested at six furlongs because of the track configuration at Monmouth Park), the average finish of the early leader has been 8th, as illustrated by the chart below.
By comparison, the horse that led after a half-mile in the six furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint, during the same five-year stretch, has fared considerably better. Take a look…
Now clearly there is more to this than just speed horses doing better at six furlongs than they do at seven furlongs, such as the respective pace of each race, and the relative quality of each front runner, but still these glaring stats are reason enough for the quickest female horses to cause for pause when considering the seven furlong Filly & Mare Sprint.
I cannot blame the connections of Reneesgotzip for looking at either the Sprint or Turf Sprint, over the seemingly more natural Filly & Mare Sprint. Those races, because of nothing more than distance, clearly fit her talents better than the race supposed to identify the best female sprinter in the land.
Wouldn't it be nice to see Reneesgotzip take on such stalwarts as Groupie Doll, Book Review, Judy the Beauty, Sweet Lulu and Dance to Bristol? Maybe the Breeders' Cup should change their description of the race to:
The Filly & Mare Sprint is run around one turn at 7 furlongs (about 1,500 yards) for the fastest females, 3-years-old and older, other than Reneesgotzip.