We started off my Top Ten Run Down with the controversial
group of the top Fillies and Mares, now it’s time to take another bullet with
the top ten Sprinters from 2003 to present day. I’m sure most will agree with
whom made the list…but the rankings may come as a bit of a shock. So without
any further ado, I give to you my Top 10 Sprinters!
10.) Hilda’s Passion
: Speed, speed, speed, and more speed.
That is what comes to mind when anyone thinks of this brilliant Todd Pletcher
trainee. In 2011 she wired two graded stakes at Gulfstream Park, breaking the
track record in the Inside Information, to start off the year. She finished
second in her first grade one try of the season before dominating the grade two
Vagrency, where she came within .35 seconds of the track record. She ran a head
scratcher in her next start, but came back with a 9 length romp in the
Ballerina, earning her first and only grade one. Unfortunately an injury cut
her career short, but she will forever be remembered as one of the most
brilliant female sprinters of her generation.
: California’s silver streak. In 2012 she
won three in a row includinging the Morvich, before capping off her season with
a brilliant closing victory in the Breeders’ Cup turf Sprint, against males no
less. She continued her momentum, up until her most recent start in 2013, winning
three straight stakes, including one mile Buena Vista Stakes. It takes a
special horse to specialize at the short sprinting distance of six and one half
furlongs, then turn around and stretch that speed over a mile, a distance often
termed as an elongated sprint.
8.) Henny Hughes
: Unfortunately many probably only remember
him as a very talented three year old sprinter who failed to deliver on racing’s
biggest day, however, if that is far from the truth. At two he flashed his
speed, winning the Trentmont and the Saratoga Special, while finishing respectable
seconds in the Hopeful, Champagne, and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. At three he wasn’t
pushed to make the Triple Crown, but instead didn’t start until the grade three
Bay Shore, where he decimated the field by 10 lengths. He reeled off two more
impressive victories, one in the Kings Bishop, the next in the Vosburgh,
against the likes of War Front and Silver Train. There was only one day this
colt didn’t show up, outside of that day he never finished worse than second
seven other stakes tries.
7.) Big Drama
: There was always something about this colt.
He was as talented and as fast as God makes them, but whether it was bad
management or a freak trip, he never did get to fulfill his true talent. Despite
his setbacks, however, he was still one great sprinter. He dominated Calder as
a Juvenile, and started off his three year old season with a bang in the Swale.
He crossed the wire first that day, setting a track record, but was DQ’ed later
after the race. That would be the only time at three he ever was able to
display his brilliance at sprints, at four however, he captured three stakes,
including the Smile Sprint and Breeders' Cup Sprint. He also finished second in
two other grade ones that year. At five he was only able to display his
brilliance once on a graded stakes scale, but it was a memorable performance,
winning the Mr. Prospector by 4 and shattering the track record.
6.) Indian Blessing
: She was among the top ten fillies, how
could I deny her a spot at her own specialty? A champion at two, she returned
at three to scorch the Santa Anita track over the seven furlong distance,
running a sub 1.20 time for the distance. She reeled off three wins later that
year, in the Prioress, Test and Gallant Bloom, the latter against her elders,
before finishing a game second in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She
race one more time in 2008, winning the grade one La Brea, giving her a total
of three grade one wins at year end, and six graded stakes.
5.) Lost in the Fog
: Who on earth could forget this ultra-talented
colt, who went unbeaten in his first 10 starts, winning five graded stakes,
including the Bay Shore, Swale, and Kings Bishop. In the Breeders' Cup he was
roughed up at the started and finished a lackluster 7th
. After that,
even in winning the Aristides Breeders Cup Handiap, he was never the same. It
was soon found out that he was suffering from cancer and was later euthanized.
Despite being lost at a young age, there was no denying this one’s talent on
the track, because when he was right he was darn close to unstoppable.
4.) Benny the Bull
: A duel grade one winner who won at
racing’s highest level on two continents. In 2008 he was a sight to behold. Not
the quickest at the start, but turning for home he inhaled his competition with
a wickedly fast closing kick that left his competition spinning. Outside of
winning the Dubai Golden Shaheen, he took home the Smile Sprint and True North.
The scintillating victories earned him divisional honors in 2008.
3.) Informed Decision
: 8 grade stakes wins, three of which
were grade ones, and a Breeders Cup victory. During 2009 Informed Decision was
a force of nature. She won on dirt, she won on poly, and on pro-ride. No matter
what she was running on, as long as she was sprinting, this filly dominated.
She broke the track record in the Vinery Madison, while stopping the clock .48
seconds short of it in the Chicago and .06 seconds from it in the Presque Isle
Downs Masters. She topped off her year winning the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare
Sprint, the crowning achievement of her brilliant career.
2.) Midnight Lute
: I agonized over putting him at number
two, greatly wanting to put him at number one, because no matter what anyone
says, it is darn near impossible to top two consecutive Breeders' Cup Sprint
wins, one of which he shattered the track record. The year before he came from
out of the clouds, through pouring rain and a sea of slop to skip away with the
2007 edition of the race. He also won the Forego and finished second in the Cigar Mile, but unfortunately was never allowed a full season of sprints
to show his dominance completely.
1.) Groupie Doll
: Those who were wondering when, if ever, I
was going to recognize this great filly, here you go. She still is writing her
story, but I feel that after winning five straight graded stakes, three of them
being grade ones, and one being a Breeders Cup victory, she deserves the number
one spot. Besides the obvious, she set a track record in the Humana Distaff and came within a second of Twirling Candy’s track mark, when winning the
Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint by a dominant 4 ½ lengths. She then ran one
more time in the Cigar Mile, only losing by a nose to a much fresher colt in
Stay Thirsty. All in all, she has proven herself to be one of the most
dominating sprinters in recent history, by virtue of her wins scintillating
string of brilliant performances in 2012.