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Dueling Down The Stretch

Dead Heat's Top Ten Countdown: The Speedsters

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.
9.) Mizdirection: 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.


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Older Comments about Dead Heat's Top Ten Countdown: The Speedsters...

Honest Lady came from a great family. She was a half to Chester House (the 2000 Arlington Million winner), Decarchy a $700K winner and Empire Maker (Belmont winner and top sire, etc.) Earlier in 2000 she finished second in the Met Mile when coming from 8th and last place.
A filly that caught my attention, was Honest Lady, who ran a fast closing 2nd to Kona Gold in the '00 BC Sprint. She was past him, just beyond the finish, and he had set a track record at Churchill Downs for 6 furlongs. Check her run out. You will not see her until they are near the finish line, and she was flying.
Sadly in a way Goblin that the fillies and mares now have their own BC Sprint and we won't see many, if any,fillies tackle the boys like we used to see thoughout most of the 90's
I think the topic is sprinters from 2003 to present, but I really like LAZ's list and would add Lit de Justice.
Sprinters from the late eighties on that I liked: Pine Tree Lane (2nd in the ’86 BC Sprint to Smile); Very Subtle (won the BC Sprint in ’86 at 16-1 over odds-on Groovy; Xtra Heat (won 26 sprints and many at the highest level. Was 2nd in the ’01 BC Sprint and 3rd in the ’02 Golden Shaheen); Desert Stormer (winner of the ’95 BC Sprint); Safely Kept (2nd by a neck in the ’89 BC Sprint and winner of the 1990 BC Sprint over Dayjur and Black Tie Affair (who would win the ’91 BCC and be ’91 HOY); Soviet Problem (winner of 15 race in 20 starts and 19 of them sprints and 2nd by a head to Cherokee Run in the ’94 BC Sprint); and Meafera (2nd by a neck in the ’92 BC Sprint and again 2nd by a neck in the ’93 BC Sprint). What all these have in common is that they were fillies. Males I particularly liked were Kona Gold (won the BC Sprint in 2000 at 6); Artax (won the ’99 BC Sprint against one of the strongest fields ever which included future Sprint winner Kona Gold and Big Jag the Dubai Shaheen winner). In his career he had two 123 Beyers and a 124 Beyer; and Reraise (the ’98 BC Sprint winner which won 8 of 9 lifetime and yet started his career in a maiden claimer).
A Sprinter i have always had a fondness of was Silver Train. He was a Breeders Cup Sprint winner as well as capturing arguably one of the hardest races of all to win.That would be the Met Mile.I believe this guy has been slighted by many due to his Trainer Dick Dutrow.As far as sheer talent and versatility,not to many have come down the turnpike as this guy.
Cause, He was retired too soon, and was a brilliant sprinter. I considered him strongly, he just didn't have a chance to accomplish much outside of that one grade one.
One that was retired early, but beat Big Drama, was Majesticperfection. He won the Alfred G Vanderbilt Hdcp and the Iowa Sprint in something like 1:07.23
Essence Hit Man: nice Placing on Sunday
10. (Sentimental pick) Essence Hitman.
1. Midnight lute, 2. Ghostzapper( he had 3 sprint wins and The Met mile), 3. Kona Gold, 4.Squirtle Squirt, 5. Left Bank, 6. Shine Again 7.Kinsale King, 8. Muscial Romance 9.Groupie Doll.
Oh, thiswas a resurrected thread. Didn't know I'd already commented. Looks like Amazombie had a few other "votes".
Good list, Dani. I liked the 10, Hilda's Passion. Thought she'd be top female sprinter if not for the injury. I'd include Amazombie's 2011, and hill king, California Flag, if you made it a dozen.
Midnight Lute / Lost in the Fog / Sahara Sky / Groupie Doll / Kodiak Kowboy / Caleb's Posse / Speightstown / Informed Decision / Big Drama / Amazombie .
Thanks for that skipaway. I knew it was the cigar, have no idea why my fingers typed BC Mile
Midnight Lute was 2nd in the Cigar Mile, not the BC Mile
Again, Mike, that is not all she won. Had she had a less dominating season she would not be rated so high. However she beat some quality horses in each of her starts, culmulating in the BC, where she ran a very fast time, made it look easy and beat the best on both coasts. ML never put together a season like she did.
Twice winning the Breeders Cup Sprint seems like a much greater accomplishment than winning the Fillies and Mare Sprint.
Caleb was very good. There were a lot of very good ones that either just didn't win enough or weren't quite as accomplished. The reason ML is at 2 is because the only thing he is known for, and it is a big thing, is the consecutive BC. Outside of that and the Forego he didn't have the season of domination that Groupie did. Had they allowed him to race exclusively in sprints earlier, we might have seen a change in the list, since I believe he would have dominated that division if his connectioins had chosen to stick with that instead of stretching him out.
I agree with many on your list, Dani. Honorable mentions to two Cali sprinters, 6f Amazombie and 7f The Factor, and the Aqueduct inner track king, Calibrachoa, a favorite of mine, of course not a grade 1 winner. He did beat Caleb's Posse that was also a very good sprinter.

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Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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