Next week’s Gallant Bloom Handicap is the third “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Run at 6 ½ furlongs, the Gallant Bloom is just half a furlong shy of the Filly & Mare Sprint Distance and looks to draw a solid field that will likely include defending F&M Sprint champion Musical Romance. But before we look forward to the Gallant Bloom, let’s take a look back at the first two “Win and You’re In” races for the F&M Sprint.
The G2 A Gleam Handicap, run on July 14 at Betfair Hollywood Park, was the first of four “Win and You’re In” races for the Filly & Mare Sprint. The race drew a field of 8, but only 7 entered the gate after Moonstruck Maya was scratched. The race drew a competitive field, and bettors had difficulty separating the favorites from the longshots, as evidenced by the post time odds. With the exception of Mildly Offensive, the entire field was sent off at odds of 9.3 - 1 or less, with the eventual winner Switch being sent off at a bettor’s dream of 2.3 - 1, pretty fair odds for the favorite.
Trailing through the first half, jockey Garrett Gomez sent his charge on the turn. They were swung four wide into the stretch, but the extra distance proved of little concern to Switch, who gained the lead in deep stretch to best Sugarinthemorning by 1 ¾ lengths at the wire. Switch completed the 7 furlongs in a solid 1:24.37 for trainer John Sadler and owner C R K Stable.
Next up in the Filly and Mare Sprint series was the G1 Ballerina Stakes, run on August 24 at Saratoga. The race drew a field of seven, but the scratch of It’s Tricky left the Ballerina with just six starters. Unlike the A Gleam, bettors knew who their top choices were, and odds ranged from 0.45 - 1 to 30.5 - 1. Favorite Turbulent Descent did not let her backers down despite bumping with Nicole H at the start. The 4-year old filly settled into a stalking position under Hall-of-Famer John Velazquez, gained the lead at the top of the stretch, and won by 1 ¼ lengths over second place finisher Derwin’s Star. Turbulent Descent completed the 7 furlongs in 1:22.13 for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
Switch and Turbulent Descent have already stamped their tickets to the Breeders’ Cup, but there are still two more automatic berth spots available. One will be decided next weekend in the Gallant Bloom Handicap, and the second will be decided on October 6 in the G2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland. Besides Musical Romance, the Gallant Bloom is likely to attract Turbulent Descent, Mildly Offensive, Emma’s Encore, C C’s Pal, Judy the Beauty, and Island Bound.