Breeders' Cup Sprint Races Report - Oct. 31

Breeders' Cup Sprint Races Report - Oct. 31
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

Aidan O'Brien (Cristoforo Colombo, Turf Sprint) – see European report 

Bob Baffert (Book Review, Filly & Mare Sprint; Secret Circle, Sprint) – The trainer’s sprinters – the colt Secret Circle and the filly Book Review – both were trackside Thursday morning for good gallops heading into their assignments Saturday. Secret Circle, a 4yo by Eddington, will be one of the favorites for the $1.5 million Xpressbet Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Book Review, a 4yo filly by Giant’s Causeway, is one of the shorter-priced horses in the $1 million Filly & Mare Sprint.

Secret Circle came out at 8 a.m. with three other Baffert Breeders’ Cup horses – Classic runners Game On Dude and Paynter, as well as Dirt Mile entrant Fed Biz.

Baffert had good words for Secret Circle, a winner of six of eight starts and a “fresh” horse for the 6f race with only one start – just over two weeks ago – in the past 18 months.

“He’s a big, stout son of a gun,” the trainer said. “That last race didn’t take anything out of him. He didn’t lose any weight. He’s looking good.”

Baffert is less sure, though not less admiring, of his filly.

“We call Book Review ‘The Scarecrow’ because she’s so skinny,” he said. “But she shows me so much heart. She trains good in the mornings, but she really lays it down in the afternoons. She gives it her all. I wish she’d drawn outside (she breaks from post 2). But she’s going to need a pace meltdown if she’s going to come running and get them. But she’ll be trying.”

Buff Bradley (Groupie Doll, Filly & Mare Sprint) – For trainer Buff Bradley, the goal now is to keep his homebred Groupie Doll a happy camper prior to her bid for a repeat victory in the Filly & Mare Sprint.

“She’s spoiled,” said Bradley, who co-owns the 5yo mare with his father Fred, Carl Hurst and Brent Burns. “But then she’s been spoiled for a very long time.”

On Thursday morning, Groupie Doll jogged back to the wire under exercise rider Jada Schlenk and then took a left turn at the paddock runway for a quick tour of the saddling enclosure and walking ring. Upon walking back to the track, Groupie Doll galloped a little more than a mile, picking up the pace through the lane.

Bradley gave a thumbs up on the morning’s activity.

“We are all good,” Bradley said. “She’ll do the same thing Friday, but not have as strong of a gallop.”

Chad Brown (Summer Applause, Filly & Mare Sprint)The multiple stakes-winning filly galloped Thursday morning, two days before her career finale for Brown when she tries sprinting after a dozen route races. 

“She’s sharp and she looks good,” Brown said.  “I’m curious to see how she does on the cut-back. She just couldn’t possibly be training any better, so that’s a big plus. But it’s very much an experiment running seven-eighths. We’ll see what happens. If we get a very strong pace up front, she could make a late run and be in the picture.”

D. Wayne Lukas (Fast Bullet, Sprint) – Zayat Stables’ Fast Bullet galloped 1 1/2m Thursday as preparations for Saturday’s Sprint continue to wind down. Lukas took over the training of the 5yo horse from Bob Baffert at mid-year and sent the horse out for the first time in Saratoga’s Forego Stakes, in which he finished seventh of eight in the field.

Doug O'Neill (Private Zone, Sprint; Handsome Mike, Turf Sprint; Renee's Titan, Filly & Mare Sprint) – Trainer Doug O’Neill watched sprinters Private Zone, Renee’s Titan and Handsome Mike gallop on the main track Thursday and voiced a general sense of optimism about his nine Breeders’ Cup entrants.

“We’re always optimistic, but we’ve got some legitimate chances,” O’Neill said. “We’re alive all over the place. Private Zone is favored in the Sprint and Goldencents is second choice in the Dirt Mile. I think Private Zone looks pretty solid.”

Private Zone involves one of the most poignant human interest stories of the Breeders’ Cup, involving racing manager Rene Douglas and jockey Martin Pedroza. Richie Silverstein, long time agent for Pedroza, summarized it best.

“Martin and Rene are childhood friends from Panama, went to jockey school together and have been best friends since,” said Silverstein. “Before Rene bought a house, he stayed here with Martin.”

Douglas was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2009 spill at Arlington Park but remained in racing. “Rene found Private Zone in Panama and manages a partnership of his owners,” continued Silverstein. “After he started racing in Panama for Rene’s brother, Rene sent him to Doug in California last summer and requested that Martin get on him.

“The horse came with tons of idiosyncrasies that have been overcome. The horse is doing good. The spacing of his races is good, and he has been working great. His last work was awesome.

“Martin has never won a Breeders’ Cup race, and he gets two chances, first with Blueskiesnrainbows in the Marathon. You can’t imagine what winning the Sprint would mean to Martin. Rene can’t ride anymore and Martin has a chance to put his best friend in the winner’s circle. It would be heart-filling if he won this race for Rene.”

Jeff Mullins (Chips All In, Turf Sprint) – If they’d been at the casino tables, the partnership led by Danny Valdez of Salt Lake City would have had to be all in as they paid the $120,000 to make Chips All In eligible for the Breeders’ Cup program.

As trainer Jeff Mullins said Thursday morning, $120,000 is a tough nut, but the owners were willing, and Mullins, himself, said the 4yo colt deserves to get the chance in the race. He indicated he might not feel the same way if he and the horse and the owners were heading for a different Breeders’ Cup venue. “But, here we are at home and he loves the downhill course, so why not take a shot?” said Mullins.

During his training Thursday morning, Chips All In galloped 1 1/2m.

Mullins thinks the colt’s stalking style will serve him well as the field heads downhill in the 6 1/2f sprint.

Jerry Hollendorfer (Sweet Lulu, Filly & Mare Sprint) –
Brimming with confidence, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer sent Sweet Lulu out for a 1 1/2m gallop as preparations for Saturday’s Filly & Mare Sprint moved forward.

On the outside post for the Mr. Greeley 3yo owned by Steve Beneto, Hollendorfer said, “That’s the best place for her.”

Julien Leparoux, who has ridden her in her last three races, retains the mount for the Breeders’ Cup date.

Kiaran McLaughlin (Dance Card, Filly & Mare Sprint) – Godolphin Racing’s Dance Card has a first date with jockey Joel Rosario on Saturday and her trainer is quite pleased with the match.

“We have Joel as her new rider, which is a plus. Hopefully it all works out and he can work out a good trip,” said Kiaran McLaughlin.

With the retired Ramon Dominguez in the irons last year, the 4yo gray daughter of Tapit put together an impressive streak of four straight victories, capped by a Grade 1 score in the Gazelle Handicap, before chips in her ankles sent her to the sidelines.

This is a really nice filly who is very, very talented. Right now she’s doing great,” said McLaughlin. “She’s had six weeks off since her last race in the Gallant Bloom and I’m very happy with the way she’s coming up to this race.”

Dance Card, who was bred in Kentucky by Bruce McMillan, was a $750,000 purchase at the February 2011 Fasig-Tipton sale. She galloped 1 3/8 under Rob Massey and then went to the gate and stood Thursday morning.

Mark Casse (Laugh Track, Sprint) – Vigil Stakes winner Laugh Track picks up the services of Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, who has more Breeders’ Cup wins than any other rider.

“Mike Smith used to ride for me before Mike Smith was Mike Smith. That was at Churchill Downs. I’ve known Mike for a long, long time and any time you can get Mike to ride it’s always a plus. We reached out to him and he accepted so we’re happy to have him,” said trainer Mark Casse.

Casse said he is happy with the way Laugh Track, a 4yo son of Distorted Humor who was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and is co-owned by WinStar and Gary Barber, is coming into the race.

“I don’t know much about the horse other than what I’ve seen on tape and I won’t have the chance to get on him beforehand, but from what I hear he is a really straightforward horse,” said Smith.

“It’s just about getting a good trip. With Laugh Track, it’s the distance. He’s in the 12 hole so he won’t get the kick back and maybe I can get him a little closer without rushing him off his feet and he’ll come with a good finish.”

Laugh Track was scheduled for a gallop of 1 1/2m on Thursday but Casse said the distance was cut back to 1 1/4m after there was a loose horse on the track.

Mike Pender (Boat Trip and Jeranimo, Turf Sprint) – Boat Trip and Jeranimo each underwent what trainer Mike Pender termed a "maintenance jog/gallop and tour through the paddock Thursday morning.

"Houston, we are ready for liftoff," Pender said.

Boat Trip, a 4yo son of Harlan's Holiday, has a win and second in two races over Santa Anita's unique downhill turf layout, giving Pender reason for optimism.

“He was second by a nose in the Eddie D with trouble," Pender said. “Garrett Gomez, who was up, said he jumped the dirt crossing over the main track from the downhill to the straight. Garrett said if he hadn't jumped, he felt he had dead aim on them.

“Boat Trip is a huge horse, about 1,200 pounds, and I think with his breeding he's going to eventually turn out to be an excellent stallion.”  

Mike Puype (Mizdirection, Turf Sprint) – Defending Turf Sprint champion Mizdirection galloped her customary 1 1/2 miles on Thursday, earning another approving, "everything's good," assessment from trainer Mike Puype.

The 5yo daughter of Mizzen Mast-Deceptive's celebrity owner, syndicated sports talk radio host Jim Rome, has not been an observer of Mizdirection's morning works so far but the other five ownership partners -- Bill Strauss, Kevin Nish, Josh Grohs, Boris Beljack and Michael Kramek -- have. Rome will be in attendance for the races both days of the Breeders' Cup, according to his representatives, and may make a morning appearance, Puype said.

Rome, whose stable name is Jungle Racing LLC, bought in to Mizdirection two years ago after the second of a now 16-race career, a maiden victory at Hollywood Park, just in time for a string of 13 starts in which Mizdirection produced nine wins, three seconds and only one off-the-board finish.

Of the Mizdirection group, Puype said: “They're all great guys. I've never had a problem and have enjoyed training for them.”

Peter Miller (Reneesgotzip, Turf Sprint) – Reneesgotzip got a day off Thursday as her training toward Saturday’s Turf Sprint winds down, according to trainer Peter Miller.

It wasn’t that the 4yo daughter of City Zip had earned it through excellent work. On the contrary, it was because she dumped her rider during training Wednesday and ran off for a ways. “She didn’t run off very far, but it still was a bit of a blowout,” the trainer said with a chuckle.

Miller found some relief when he was reminded by many of California Flag’s similar incident before winning the 2009 Turf Sprint.

Ron Ellis (Teddy's Promise, Filly & Mare Sprint) – Trainer Ron Ellis said that Teddy’s Promise is training as well as possible after the 5yo California-bred mare galloped on the main track Thursday under exercise rider Cesar Cerrano.

Ellis said that he would not have minded a post wider than the five hole for the speedy mare in the 7f race. “The filly outside her (Ismene) has a lot of speed,” said Ellis. “I will leave it up to Victor (jockey Espinoza)."

Steve Asmussen (Justin Phillip, Sprint; Unbridled's Note, Turf Sprint) – As a trainer, Steve Asmussen knows there are some things he can’t control such as post position and the other horses in the race, but when there are measures he can take to help his horses, he’s definitely going to go for it. This is why Sprint contender Justin Phillip and his stablemates Unbridled’s Note (Turf Sprint) and Untapable (Juvenile Fillies) have been in California the entire month of October. All three of Justin Phillip’s works leading into Saturday have come over the Santa Anita surface.

"We feel very comfortable being out here,” said Asmussen. “It’s the one variable you can take away by giving them plenty of time to adapt. I can’t change who’s in the race, but coming here and giving them plenty of time is something we can do.” 

Tom Amoss (Sum of the Parts, Sprint) – Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Sum of the Parts made his first appearance of 2013 on the Santa Anita track Thursday morning after a Tuesday arrival from his home base in Kentucky.

With exercise rider Maurice Sanchez up, Sum of the Parts jogged 1m, visited the starting gate and then galloped 1 1/2m.

“I thought things went well this morning,” trainer Tom Amoss said. “He had a long time getting here Tuesday, so he just walked yesterday. I didn’t see any ill effects from missing a day.”

Amoss said Sum of the Parts would school in the paddock Thursday afternoon, gallop Friday morning and walk Saturday morning prior to his second start in the Sprint.

In the 2012 Sprint, Sum of the Parts got the lead out of the gate and yielded grudgingly in the latter stages of the 6f race to finish fourth, beaten three lengths by Trinniberg.

“He seems a little brighter this year and acts fresher on the track,” Amoss said of the now 4yo Sum of the Parts. “I see that out here."

As with 2012, Sum of the Parts enters the Sprint off a victory in the Phoenix at Keeneland. In 2013, Sum of the Parts has one fewer start than in 2012.

“He had a difficult campaign last year,” Amoss said. “I had no expectations last year because it was at the End of a long year and I was surprised he made the lead. This year, he is a fresh, sharp horse. In the Phoenix, he used his speed to control the race and I would love to see it set up like that (Saturday). But I understand the Breeders’ Cup horses are a lot quicker.”

Todd A. Pletcher (Capo Bastone, Turf Sprint) – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Capo Bastone galloped over the main track Thursday morning. The 3yo son of Street Boss finished third in the Juvenile last year at Santa Anita but will make his debut on grass in Saturday’s Turf Sprint.

Capo Bastone, who closed with a rush under Irad Ortiz Jr. to win the King’s Bishop at Saratoga last time out, will be ridden Saturday by Joel Rosario, the dominant jockey in Southern California before relocating to the East Coast in 2012.

“We felt like it was very important in the Turf Sprint to have someone who’s familiar with the turf course here – the six-and-a-half furlong aspect of it. It’s a tricky course,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Irad rode him perfectly in the King’s Bishop, but we felt it was important to have someone who was familiar with the course.”

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