With all the talk lately about who will win Horse of the Year, or who is the best three-year old in the nation, I've decided to do a 180, or maybe it's a 270. I'm not sure. Either way, I choose to shine the light of this blog on a division that is seldom talked about. Today, the ladies have their day. And not just any fillies mind you, but only the fleetest of the fleet. Who will follow in the footsteps of Dubai Majesty and become the 2011 Female Sprinter of the Year? Too early to tell for sure, but the goings on at the Spa may have a lot to say on who has the inside track.
Saturday's Grade 1 Ballerina Stakes features a match-up of two of the best female sprinter in the land, in Hilda's Passion and Sassy Image. The lightning fast Hilda's Passion can look absolutely unbeatable at times as evidenced by her overpowering wins in graded races like the Raven Run, Hurricane Bertie, Inside Information and the Vagrancy. Those wins make her uncharacteristically dull run in her last start (the Bed O' Roses) all the more puzzling. She is doing well now, and all will be forgotten if the real Hilda's Passion shows up in the Ballerina.
Meanwhile, all Sassy Image has done is win three consecutive graded stakes, including two grade ones, since returning to races at less than a mile. Her devastating closing kick has proven to be quite the asset in sprint races with a healthy early pace. A scenario she is likely to catch again on Saturday. A third grade 1 win would make her the clear leader of the division.
The Ballerina is far from a two-filly affair though. I mean, have you seen the most recent race for both Tar Heel Mom and Tamarind Hall? Tar Heel Mom has long been knocking on the door of tops in this division, and her win in Honorable Miss was one of the best performances of her career. Tamarind Hall is more of an unknown, but if she keeps running like she did in the Bed O' Roses, look out.
As good as this bunch in the Ballerina is, I must admit I am partial to a younger speedster. Turbulent Descent is my early pick to win at Churchill on November 4th. Considering she has already won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, Grade 2 Beaumont, and Grade 1 Test Stakes, she may be in the enviable position of hunting not only the Female Sprint Championship, but also the 3yo Filly Award as well.
And I haven't even mentioned the California contingent yet. Tanda looks like her old self and was impressive in winning Sunday at Del Mar, and don't forget about Switch. It sounds like John Sadler has finally decided to bring her back to the sprint game, in which she is undoubtedly most potent.
Enjoy the Ballerina with an eye on what might happen in ten weeks. It may not get the most attention on the fabulous Friday/Saturday combo that is Breeders' Cup, but the Filly & Mare Sprint is shaping up to be one beauty of a race.