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The world's fastest Thoroughbreds compete in the Sprint, sometimes achieving speeds nearing 40 M.P.H. in the stretch. This race is contested at three-quarters of a mile for male and female horses, 3-years-old and older.
UPDATE Nov 4: Vekoma, the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland, will not compete after developing a fever the evening of Nov. 3, trainer George Weaver said.
The $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), at 6 furlongs, showcases some of the world's fastest dirt horses, with R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables' Vekoma leading the way. The 4-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG) is perfect in three starts this year for trainer George Weaver, including the "Win and You're In" Carter (G1) at Belmont in June and "Win and You're In" Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park in his last start, July 4. Vekoma earned a free berth into the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) with his Met Mile win, and has also been pre-entered in that race.
Four Breeders' Cup Challenge Series winners also have been pre-entered: Dan Agnew, Rodney Orr, Jerry Schneider, and John Xitco's Collusion Illusion, who won the Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar in August for trainer Mark Glatt; Madaket Stables, Gary Barber and Tom Kagele's C Z Rocket, who is 5-for-5 since being claimed by trainer Peter Miller and won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G2) on Sept. 27; Diamond 100 Racing Club, Amy Dunne, D P Racing and trainer Patrick Biancone's Diamond Oops, who won over the track and distance in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) at Keeneland on Oct. 2, and Mr. Amore Stable's homebred Firenze Fire, who won Belmont's Vosburgh (G2) on Sept. 26 for trainer Kelly Breen.
Frank Fletcher Racing Operations' Frank's Rockette, a 3-year-old filly, trained by Bill Mott, has won four straight, including the Gallant Bloom (G2) at Belmont Park in her last start by 7 ¼ lengths.
Two Kentucky-bred horses based in Japan - Jasper Prince and Pingxiang - have been pre-entered, and both are trained by Hideyuki Mori. The 5-year-old Jasper Prince won the Enif Stakes at Chukyo on Sept. 12, while Pingxiang has won two of four starts this year, including an allowance victory at Nagoya on Sept. 30.
Joel Politi's $2 million earner Serengeti Empress secured her berth in the 7-furlong $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) with a gate-to-wire victory in the Ballerina (G1), a "Win and You're In" series race at Saratoga Race Course in August.
The five-time graded stakes winner trained by Tom Amoss will have a rematch with Lothenbach Stables' homebred filly Bell's the One, who beat her by a nose in the Derby City Distaff (G1) on Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs. All 11 of the fillies and mares pre-entered won at least one graded stake this year and four of them won Grade 1 races.
Race 8 at Keeneland on Saturday, November 7 - Post 2:36 PM
|1||Echo Town||20-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
|2||C Z Rocket||7-2||Luis Saez
|3||Collusion Illusion||20-1||Flavien Prat
|4||Bon Raison||30-1||Adam Beschizza
|5||Manny Wah||30-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|6||Frank's Rockette||10-1||Junior Alvarado
|7||Whitmore||15-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|8||Firenze Fire||8-1||Jose Lezcano
|9||Empire of Gold||30-1||Declan Carroll
|11||Diamond Oops||8-1||Florent Geroux
|12||Hog Creek Hustle||30-1||Corey Lanerie
|13||Jasper Prince||30-1||Jose Ortiz
|15||Lasting Legacy||30-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
|Robert Hess, Jr.|
CZ Rocket was quite a looker as a 2-year-old at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s sale in June 2016. Shoppers were so impressed with his good looks and on-track swiftness, that he brought the highest price of $800,000 at the auction. He did not make his career debut for more than a year, but he did so in style at Saratoga and soon added two more victories.
Racing sparingly for the next two years, he won the 2018 Kelly's Landing Stakes at Churchill Downs before going winless in his next 11 starts, although he did finish fourth in the 2018 Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga and in back-to-back runnings of the Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill in 2018 and 2019.
After beginning 2020 with two poor showings against allowance competition, his connections entered him for a $40,000 claiming price April 30 at Oaklawn Park where owner Tom Kagele and trainer Peter Miller claimed him from that fifth-place effort.
"Tom actually called me (about claiming him) and I said, `His form is bad right now, but he's a runner.'" Miller said. "You could see he had run some really fast races. I like old class horses that have shown talent. If you can get them going in the right direction they can run back to past form."
Elevated to the $50,000 and then the $62,500 claiming levels, CZ Rocket responded with victories in his first two starts for his new connections. He then won a Keeneland allowance race before winning both the Pat O'Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar Aug. 29 and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Sept. 26 to extend his win streak to five in a row.
"I've owned horses since 1999 and we were with (trainer) Mike Machowsky," said Kagele, who has since sold percentages in CZ Rocket to Gary Barber and Madaket Stables. "This is unreal, we're so happy. The Breeders' Cup people contacted us after he won the Pat O' Brien and they said we could come, so we're bringing a party! This is so great, to see what he's done with Pete. I was very lucky to be a part of Southern Image with Mike (Machowsky) and we won the Santa Anita Handicap (2004), and now to be in a position to run in our first Breeders' Cup, wow!"
Miller has won five Breeders' Cup races-the 2017 and 2018 Sprint with Roy H; 2017 and 2018 Turf Sprint with Stormy Liberal and 2019 Turf Sprint with Belvoir Bay (GB).
Vekoma's blockbuster undefeated 4-year-old season has already earned him two automatic Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" berths.
On June 6, his 7 ¼-length romp in the Runhappy Carter Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park gave him a spot in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1). The race, which was run on a sloppy track with no spectators, was originally scheduled for April at Aqueduct, but was moved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Then, on the Fourth of July, Vekoma returned to Belmont and captured the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1), known as the "Met Mile," in gate-to-wire fashion. He beat an all-star field that tallied a combined 20 graded-stakes wins, including 2019 Longines Breeders' Classic (G1) runner-up McKinzie and 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Code of Honor. The victory earned Vekoma a free berth into the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1), and made him a millionaire.
Vekoma is trained by Louisville native George Weaver, 49, who worked as an assistant to D. Wayne Lukas and Todd Pletcher before going out on his own in 2002.
"I've never had a horse with this much talent and determination. He just knows what he is," Weaver said.
Last year, Vekoma joined the Derby trail with wins in the Nashua Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. He finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Weaver said this one blip in Vekoma's resume could be attributed to the 1 ¼-mile distance being slightly too far for him. After the Derby, Vekoma took an almost 11-month rest. He has been perfect to date since.
The front-runner is owned by friends Randy Hill and Mike and Ted Gatsas. In his 20 years of racing, Hill, who grew up going to Monmouth Park with his mother, had one grade 1 win. He is thrilled Vekoma has given him two more in 2020.
Mike Gatsas's son Matt came up with Vekoma's name, which refers to a Dutch company that manufactures roller coasters and is a nod to Candy Ride, the chestnut's father. Candy Ride was undefeated in six career starts, including the Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) at Del Mar. Vekoma's mother, Mona de Momma, is also a grade 1 winner.
Vekoma will stand stud at Spendthrift at the conclusion of his racing career.
Firenze Fire was indeed en fuego in the Vosburgh Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park, smoking the field by 2 3/4 lengths. This redeeming comeback from last year's running where he lost by a nose, earned him an automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) via the "Win and You're In" Challenge Series and pushed his lifetime earnings to more than $2 million.
It was the bay horse's fifth start under conditioner Kelly Breen, who assumed training duties from Jason Servis earlier this year. The Vosburgh gave the 5-year-old his third graded stakes win in 2020 and his seventh overall and helped him bounce back from an icy performance in the Forego Stakes Presented by America's Best Racing (G1) on a sloppy track.
"I can say he doesn't like the mud," Breen said. "You can put a line through his last race and he really performed today. He loves Belmont. We'll have to get him as used to Keeneland as he is to Belmont. He looked great today and we're on to the Breeders' Cup."
Breen grew up in New Jersey and frequented races at Monmouth Park, where he has won several leading trainer titles, with his father. He saddled 2011 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Ruler on Ice, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) that same year.
Owner Ron Lombardi of Mr. Amore Stables is looking forward to returning to the Breeders' Cup with Firenze Fire for a fourth straight year, following appearances in the 2017 Juvenile (G1) (seventh), the 2018 Dirt Mile (G1) (fourth) and 2019 Sprint (fifth). He also competed in the 2018 Kentucky Derby (11th).
"I think he's right there (with the best sprinters in the country)," Lombardi said. "There's no question about it. Kelly has done a fantastic job with him. It's our second win after (the trainer change) and he's a solid horse. This shows he's the real deal."
|2020||Whitmore||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Ron Moquett||1:08.61|
|2019||Mitole||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steven Asmussen||1:09.00|
|2018||Roy H||Paco Lopez||Peter Miller||1:08.24|
|2017||Roy H||Kent Desormeax||Peter Miller||1:08.61|
|2016||Drefong||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||1:08.79|
|2015||Runhappy||Edgar Prado||Maria Borell||1:08.58|
|2014||Work All Week||Florent Geroux||Roger Brueggemann||1:08.28|
|2013||Secret Circle||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||1:08.73|
|2012||Trinniberg||Willie Martinez||Shivananda Parbhoo||1:07.98|
|2011||Amazombie||Mike E. Smith||Bill Spawr||1:09.17|
|2010||Big Drama||Eibar Coa||David Fawkes||1:09.05|
The Breeders' Cup Sprint (Grade 1) has been a popular racing event since the inauguration of Breeders' Cup in 1984. At present, this horse racing event carries a purse of $1.5 million and has proven a nightmare for handicappers among the Breeders' Cup races. As a champion event, the Breeders' Cup Sprint has become a platform where none can predict which horse is going to perform best on that very day. In fact, in seven of the Breeders' Cup Sprint races, the winner was decided by a distance of neck or less than that. So, from the result itself we can measure the level of competition in this race.
Browsing the history of Breeders' Cup Sprint, we find the 1990 session. The 1989 champion, Safely Kept, fought brilliantly head-to-head battle with English invader Dayjur - favorite of that race; inside the furlong pole, Dayjur suddenly took the command over but only forty yards away from the finishing line, he jumped the shadow of Belmont Park's grandstand and lost his action for a few moment. Those missteps were enough for the favorite, Safety Kept, to regain the lead and hold on for a neck victory.
In seven of the Breeders' Cup Sprint races, the winner was decided by a distance of neck or less than that.
On October 27, 2007, Midnight Lute, trained by multiple Kentucky Derby winner, Bob Baffert, scored the most important victory of his career when he won the six-furlong Breeders' Cup Sprint at Monmouth Park, ridden by Garrett Gomez. Coming from last to first, he won by 4 3/4 lengths over a sloppy track in a time of 1:09.18. In his next visit to Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita Park on October 25th, 2008, he finished the six-furlong dash in a final time of 1:07:08 on a fast track making Midnight Lute the first horse to ever repeat in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
In the 2000, Kona Gold snatched the winning title while the Java Gold gelding placed third in 1998, second in 1999 and finally won the race at six. In fact the favorite takes it all in this race! We all are expecting the same trend of results in this year too. The 2009 winner of the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Dancing in Silks, shared 2009 California Horse of the Year honors with California Flag.
|Breeders' Cup Race||Grade||Purse||Date|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint||II||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf||I||$1,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile||I||$2,000,000||November 6|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint||I||$1,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile||I||$1,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Sprint||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Mile||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Distaff||I||$2,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Turf||I||$4,000,000||November 7|
|Breeders' Cup Classic||I||$6,000,000||November 7|