Is the Male Sprint Division Losing its Luster?

July 03, 2014 02:41am


It was only this past weekend that I realized how weak this year's male sprint division is so far this year. The same could be said for the female sprint division as well, which has been left with a gaping void waiting to be filled following the retirement of 2-time champ Groupie Doll, but the male ends seems to be struggling more so. A division as a whole which once brought us the likes of Housebuster, Decathlon, Artax, Kona Gold, and Dr. Fager, now seems to be floundering many rungs below its old time luster, from the outside looking in at what used to be.


While thinking through who would win mid-season awards this past weekend, I came up empty once I got to the sprinters. I wasn't even able to come up with the top three of the division so far this year because of how scattered it is. After going through all the Grade 1 and Grade 2 sprints so far this year, along with their victors, I found myself more on the disappointed side following my findings. If there were to be such an award held midway through the racing calender, who would end up winning? Is there even a definitive leader in this division?


Below is the list of all Grade 1 and 2 sprint stakes run so far into the year:

G1 Carter Handicap: Dads Caps

G1 Triple Bend Handicap: Declassify

G2 Churchill Downs Stakes: Central Banker

G2 Palos Verdes Stakes: Wild Dude

G2 Potrero Grande Stakes: Big Macher

G2 RTN True North Handicap: Palace

G2 San Carlos Stakes: Sahara Sky

G2 Swale Stakes: Spot

G2 Woody Stephens Stakes: Bayern


I guess how one views this group of horses is mere opinion, but I'm not all too flattered with our top sprinters. Dads Caps, with a pace makes the race victory. Before last Saturday it was "Declassify, who?" Palace's ability to step up to Grade 1 status is yet to be determined. Sahara Sky appears to have majorly lost a step and may be in need of another rest, and Spot...well. Yeah.


Obviously the best of the sprints are yet to come further on in the year, but usually there's at least a clue of who the divisional leader is by this point. I eventually ended up on Bayern as the one to win the fantasy midseason award based off of his lone powerhouse stakes triumph, but, by the looks of it, sprints are not what's on the horizon for Bayern following Baffert's announcement of heading to the Jersey shore next out.


Of this bunch I see Central Banker as the one with the brightest future. I was thoroughly disappointed when he was forced to scratch out of the Met Mile and I do believe he would have hit the board. Declassify has the ability to blossom into quite the promising young sprinter, boasting a 3 for 5 record so far, but will have his plate full when facing the likes of Wild Dude, Big Macher, and almost assuredly, reigning Breeders' Cup champs Secret Circle and Goldencents later on in the year.


It's unfortunate that the male sprinter division is not what it used to be. Each year it appears to be losing a bit of momentum. The fact that the champion sprinter of last year was the only horse throughout the entire year to win two G1 sprints and that a horse coming off of only one race in the past 18 months was able to win the BC Sprint speaks volumes. Both Grade 1 sprints from so far this year didn't exactly boast Grade 1 quality entries. April's Carter drew a meager Grade 2 quality field, while last Saturday's Triple Bend was one of the weakest Grade 1's assembled all year, looking on paper a Grade 3 at best. We have plenty of fast horses, the only thing in question is the quality.


I look forward to what the remainder of the year may bring for all of the aforementioned horses above and I can't wait to see some duke it out multiple times and eventually (and hopefully) we'll see them all lock horns on the big stage at Santa Anita on the evening of November 1st. Case in point, while other divisions are thriving with an exceptional amount of star quality horses, the sprinter division appears to be dwindling. Here's to hoping one of those noted above, or a complete stranger, may pick up the shards, piece it back together, and run away with this division with no looking back.


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Older Comments about Is the Male Sprint Division Losing its Luster?...

idea was how LITTLE difference there is in with these two arenas
Make that all sprinters in cycling....
That is a stupid comparison. Tour de France sprinters depend on their lead out man. Without Mark Renshaw, Mark Cavendish would loose a lot of this races.
Sprinters are BORN not made so often an animal that hsa moved up from the lower allowance levels can blossum late in the season. See that often as the most recent I recall was Ataboy Roy who WORKED at Tup in 1:08 and change for 6f. Also sprinters have to be really on edge as often the difference between their top and 10th place horses are not too different than the final cyclists in a stage of the Tour de France.
I'm very excited to see Undrafted take his show on the road, SS. I've always thought he had a ton of potential, and he's finally starting to really show it.
Heres hoping that Moonlight Song or Dads Cap get on the loose and forget to stop.
@Floridaf interesting you mentioned Undrafted..
For the ladies, I would consider Pontchatrain. She's a turf sprinter and undefeated this year. If not for an injury, she'd have more than 2 victories for the year. As for the boys, depending on what Undrafted and Marchman do the rest of the year, they could make some noise in the sprint division, albeit on the turf (like Pontchatrain).
Saturday's G3 Belmont Sprint Championship drew a nice field. Dads Caps, Palace, Central Banker, among others.
EP -- yeah, I knew you were thinking of Midnight Lute haha :D/
Rafirox- I read your comment and was thinking WTF?....Then I re read my post again, and IF i did that on purpose he would have been listed first ;)
That was actually accidental. Should have been his MIDNIGHT LUTE the express train.
Caught that too ^^
EP. Mylute is a world class sprinter. No doubt :D.
Nothing wrong with this division. I have enjoyed it for years, whether it be Safely Kept, Gulch, Cherokee Run, Lit De Justice, Richter Scale, Kona Gold, Mylute, Squitle Squirt, Langfuhr, Phil's Dream, Essence Hitman, Judith's Wild Rush, Kiridashi. There have been some super talented sprinters that have given me great thrills north and south of the border.
the division has always been a joke because if they can go 9f alright and 6f perfect, you bet they'll be going long
You listed the best sprinters and only Fager stood out,
The Sprint Division is not losing its luster. It lost its luster. Look at last years winner,Secret Circle. Basically an average race hrse made look better than he was due to the competition. Goldencents is another horse who is not the Superstar many think he is. When ones claim to fame is winning on a racetrack that played 2 to 3 seconds faster and had such a bias that it rendered the balance of the field useless. Something is wrong. Even this year Bayern ran big,but he might be like many Rock and Roll songs(one hit wonder) . Another horse i call a bandstand special. He was a laughing stock to all,now the accolades can't stop flowing in based on one loose on the lead race.
I think Goldencents could handle this division if that is the direction they choose, but you are right ... Dr. Fager is twice the horse of anyone in this division.
Last year the Sprint division produced few repeat winners, also.

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Meet Averie Levanti:


Averie Levanti has been an enthusiast for racing ever since she read Bill Nack's Secretariat in early 2011. After falling in love with the popular Shackleford, racing quickly grew to become her passion. Soon discovering she had a love for writing, she began to share some of her articles through HRN. 

In January of last year she fell in love with Princess of Sylmar, and, after following her through her rapid growing success, showed her enthusiasm for the filly through a simple poster board. Being noticed by Ed Stanco and meeting the filly lead to a whirlwind of events which eventually lead to being named as the 2013 Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year.

Now proudly a part of the King of Prussia Stable team, Averie is only beginning to embark on her dream of achieving a lifelong career in horse racing and hopes to make a name for herself through her writing and her growing interest in photography.

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