Breeders' Cup Sprint looks like Mitole's likely race of choice

October 21, 2019 11:34am

Bill Heiligbrodt, who campaigns Mitole with his wife, Corrine, has given “free rein” to trainer Steve Asmussen when selecting a Breeders’ Cup race for the flashy 4-year-old colt.

But as the pre-entry deadline passes Monday, Heiligbrodt knows where he’d like to see Mitole line up Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.

“My preference would be to run in the Sprint because he has a chance to be champion,” the owner said. “Steve, he’s pretty independent. But I believe we’ll end up running in the Sprint.”

Mitole, who hadn’t competed in a graded stakes race before winning the April 13 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) at Oaklawn Park, went on to go 3-for-4 in Grade 1 company before training up to the Breeders’ Cup off a win in Saratoga’s Aug. 24 Forego (G1).

A victory along the way in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) gave the son of Eskendereya a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. The fees-paid entry should apply to either the Sprint or the Dirt Mile.

“I’ve always said that I think Mitole could run almost anywhere,” Heiligbrodt said of sending his horse longer. “The one time we ran him a mile, it wasn’t two turns, but he ran pretty well.”

Indeed, as fellow top older males McKinzie and Thunder Snow were next under the wire on June 8 at Belmont Park.

As for succeeding in the Dirt Mile, “I think he probably could, but I don’t think at this point and time in his career it’s the thing to do,” Heiligbrodt added.

Mitole, who’s 9-for-13 in his career after missing most of his 3-year-old season due to a splint bone injury, will join Spendthrift Farm’s stallion roster in 2020.

His top rival for the Eclipse Award for Champion Male Sprinter appears to be Imperial Hint, who beat Mitole in the Vanderbilt (G1) to end what was a seven-race winning streak. That day, Mitole was dealt a rail draw, and Imperial Hint fired a track record performance at Saratoga.

It’s also not lost on Heiligbrodt that Spendthrift’s other top addition for next season, Omaha Beach, will go in the Dirt Mile. Separating the two could land the Kentucky farm a pair of recently minted Breeders’ Cup winners.

The six-furlong Sprint carries a $2 million purse, with the Dirt Mile paying out $1 million.

Connections that cross-enter Breeders’ Cup races at the pre-entry deadline must declare for a single race before the post position draw Monday of race week.

In the past, horses could receive a position in two races given they ran on separate days, which used to be the case for the Sprint and Dirt Mile. Last year, the Breeders’ Cup shifted its schedule to feature all its juvenile events on Friday and races for 3-year-olds and up on Saturday.

 

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