While the 3-year-old male division has dominated the post-Breeders’ Cup Eclipse Awards talk, the debate between Essential Quality and Medina Spirit is far from the only championship intrigue.
The male sprint division also stands in the balance.
Entering last weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Jackie’s Warrior was lengths ahead in the race for champion male sprinter based off a campaign that included four graded-stakes wins, all versus 3-year-olds, highlighted by the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) over subsequent Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Life is Good.
But a plot twist emerged last Saturday at Del Mar. Jackie’s Warrior failed to deliver as the heavy favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and it could prove costly when it comes to a year-end championship.
Aloha West would ultimately come out on top in the Sprint, mounting a furious late rally under Jose Ortiz to prevail by a nose over Dr. Schivel in an absolute thriller. That triumph certainly puts Aloha West among the three finalists for champion sprinter. But being his only stakes win of the year, it would seem hard to put him above Jackie’s Warrior given the latter’s complete body of work.
And for Dr. Schivel? Trainer Mark Glatt told Horse Racing Nation on Wednesday the Violence colt would point to the seven-furlong Malibu (G1) for 3-year-olds at Santa Anita on Dec. 26 with the hope of possibly clinching an Eclipse Award.
“I think that’s the focus right now,” Glatt said. “You know it would be another shot at a Grade 1 against straight-aged horses. So at the moment, I think we’ll see how he does over the next couple of weeks and we’ll be talking about it. Personally, I think he probably needs to win another Grade 1 to have a real good shot at it. But maybe not necessarily.”
Among Dr. Schivel’s potential rivals in the Malibu are Triple Tap, American Pharoah’s half brother who was a sharp allowance winner last weekend at Del Mar for Bob Baffert; and the uber-talented Flightline for trainer John Sadler.
“Everyone is talking about Flightline, he is a super impressive horse,” Glatt said. “I think if (Dr. Schivel) ran and we were able to beat that horse, it would be hard to discount a race like that. He would have two Grade 1s, has beaten older horses all year except the other day. I would hope that would be a good enough resume for him to be champion sprinter.”
Other Malibu rivals could include Breeders' Cup Sprint third-place finisher Following Sea. Trainer Todd Pletcher did not rule out making a return trip to Southern California to Grade 1 hunt in the Malibu.
The son of Runhappy is also a candidate for the Dec. 4 Cigar Mile (G1) open to older horses at Aqueduct, a race Pletcher is also considering for stablemates Dr Post and Americanrevolution.
Pletcher said in a text message to Horse Racing Nation of Following Sea, “He just shipped back to (New York). Will see how he trains for the next few weeks before discussing race options with (owner) Spendthrift Farm.”
Jackie's Warrior is set to receive a freshening before embarking on a 4-year-old campaign for trainer Steve Asmussen, the Santa Anita racing office confirmed this week.
As for the championship race between Dr. Schivel and Jackie’s Warrior, you will note the latter has more graded-stakes wins (4 to 2) and the Grade 1 wins are currently equal with one apiece. However, as Glatt noted, both of Dr. Schivel’s graded-stakes wins came against older horses (Bing Crosby (G1), Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2)) and both were automatic qualifiers to the Breeders' Cup that should carry additional weight.
“I would hope those would be very important considerations for the voters,” Glatt said. “He got beat by a dirty nostril in the big one, but he also won two of the Breeders’ Cup 'win and you’re in’s.'"
Dr. Schivel was purchased privately following his win in the 2020 Del Mar Futurity (G1) and is campaigned by Red Baron's Barn and Rancho Temescal, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and co-breeder William A. Branch. He would be the first Eclipse Awards finalist and/or champion trained by Glatt.
2021 Malibu (G1)
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
|E. Moger, Jr.|