Breeders' Cup Sprint berth on the line in the Sprint Championship

October 02, 2015 01:08pm
Gimme Da Lute wins 2015 El Cajon
Photo: Benoit Photo

The second Saturday afternoon card of the Santa Anita Park fall meet is headlined by the Grade I $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. A solid group of eight probables is assembled for the 4th Running of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race, including Triple Bend Stakes winner Masochistic, Bing Crosby Stakes winner Wild Dude and Los Alamitos Derby winner Gimme Da Lute. A berth to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint will be on the line at roughly 4:30 Pacific Time as we rapidly approach the world championships at the end of the month at Keeneland.

9-5-morning line favorite Masochistic has not been seen since a disappointing runner-up finish as the 2-5 favorite in the Bing Crosby at Del Mar in late July.  The five-year old son of Sought After entered that race the winner of three straight and was widely considered one of the early favorites to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. With five of his six career victories coming at distances over six panels, the question is whether the Ron Ellis trained gelding does his best running at the six-furlong distance or whether he prefers a bit more ground. Saturday he gets another shot at three-quarters of a mile in hopes of earning a spot in Lexington at the end of the month to take on the nation’s best sprinters. Tyler Baze will return to ride.

After a solid second place effort in the seven furlong Pat O’Brien on August 22nd at Del Mar, Wild Dude will cut back to his preferred distance and look to make it four for six lifetime at three-quarters of a mile. The Jerry Hollendorfer entrant draws back outside, which should allow Southern California’s leading rider Rafael Bejarano to work out a great trip on Saturday. His upset defeat of Masochistic in the Bing Crosby illustrates he is capable of beating the best sprinters on the West Coast and he should be ready to roll after regressing a bit off a career best effort in late July. Bejarano will get the “leg up” on Wild Dude for the first time since May with Flavien Prat being sidelined after breaking several vertebrae at Los Alamitos. He is in with a big shot.

Gimme Da Lute is the “new face” in the graded sprint stakes events on the Southern California circuit. The talented son of Midnight Lute has been facing off against three-year olds throughout 2015 thus far and will be making his first try against older runners. The Bob Baffert trainee has been red-hot rattling off four straight stakes victories, including two wins against the talented Prospect Park this summer and most recently a victory as the 1-5 favorite in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar. This is clearly a step up in class for the colt, but the cutback in distance, affinity for the surface and what should be a great trip all should give Gimme Da Lute a shot to earn a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Late running Kobe’s Back also returns on Saturday in search of his first win since April. The four-year old son of Flatter has won just three times in fourteen career starts largely due to his inability to break from the gate. The C R K Stable colt finished third in July’s Bing Crosby after a slow start and followed that up with an extremely disappointing last place effort in the Pat O’Brien on Pacific Classic Day when once again coming away a bit tardy. The pace scenario should be to his liking on Saturday, but it is hard to endorse a sprinter that spots the field several lengths regularly. The good news is that he put in a nice work last week with little effort and if he can find his way to the wire first, he has had success at Keeneland having won the Grade III Commonwealth in the spring. Hall of Famer Gary Stevens will once again take the mount.

Distinctiv Passion is the likely pacesetter in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship. The son of With Distinction is one of the quicker runners on the West Coast and has had success over this racetrack, but he has struggled to finish races for the most part and takes on the toughest field he has faced in 2015 on Saturday. Martin Pedroza will get the call on the Jeff Bonde runner.

San Onofre has not been seen since a fourth place effort in the Triple Bend on closing weekend at Santa Anita. This five-year old son of Surf Cat has held his own in three attempts against stakes company, including a near miss against Distinctiv Passion in the Grade III Los Angeles over this surface.  Being fresh should work to his advantage on Saturday, but his task became a bit more difficult given the rail draw and it is likely that the predicted fast pace will be his demise. An underneath finish though is not out of the question if Alex Solis can work out a trip from the inside.

Indexical beat an optional claiming group in the slop at Del Mar opening week and finished third in the Pat O”Brien, but has never won at six furlongs and appears outclassed. Glacken Too makes his second start for Phil D’Amato after racing on the East Coast and Midwest in his first 11 races. He is still eligible against non-winners of three and is likely in way over his head.

With Distinctiv Passion entered in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship the early pace is likely to be a “hot one.” San Onofre and Masochistic simply are not as fast as the Bonde runner and will likely let him clear and look to stalk the early pace. I am not sure either of them will benefit from the pace scenario and am not a believer that Distinctiv Passion is good enough to take this group gate-to-wire at six furlongs.  While Masochistic’s best race is good enough to beat this group, I think he is a “play against” on Saturday due to the inside draw and his desire for a bit more ground than six furlongs.

The two horses I prefer in the Sprint Championship are Wild Dude and Gimme Da Lute. They are the two that should benefit most from the race shape. Wild Dude is the more known commodity of the two and should fire a good one at his choice distance with Bejarano in the saddle. Gimme Da Lute should relish the cutback in distance from a mile, but has never chased horses as fast as these. He has more upside than Wild Dude, but is a riskier proposition at what could be a shorter price. I recommend using both in the Pick 4 and playing Wild Dude to Win and Place in what should be a fun featured race on a solid ten-race card at the “Great Race Place.”


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Scott has been a fan of handicapping and following thoroughbred racing since Garden State Park was rebuilt in Cherry Hill, NJ in 1985.  His first memories of the racetrack include the 1985 Jersey Derby won by Spend a Buck and the 1990 Met Mile clash between Easy Goer, Criminal Type and Housebuster, but it was not until his mid to late twenties that Scott became confident he had a knack for picking winners. He points to the summer of 2007 in San Diego while working on a masters degree in American History as the time where he took his handicapping, his communication skills, and his attention to detail to the next level.  It was at this time where he had his first real big score.   He had four of only five winning combinations in the now extinct “Place Pick All” on a $8 ticket netting himself $40,000. 

A few months after hitting a monster pick five at Santa Anita Park in February of 2013, Scott started his website, showcasing his and other experts' selections, as well as analysis and commentary on North American racing. From there, he began writing a weekly column for called "Race of the Week" and soon thereafter started writing for Horse Racing Nation. Currently, he is Horse Racing Nation's Southern California Racing Correspondent and can be found most days at Santa Anita Park or Del Mar Race Course.

Scott loves playing in horse racing tournaments and constructing pick four and pick five tickets.  His favorite all-time horses are Captain Bodgit, A.P. Indy, Fly So Free and Charismatic. He has lived in multiple states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Colorado before returning to Southern California in the middle of 2015 to start "Shapper Da California Capper." 


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