Breeders’ Cup Sprint Picture Becoming Clear

Lord Nelson

Lord Nelson

The picture for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) came into focus over the past couple of weeks as some early frontrunners gained ground, solidifying their position as leading candidates by qualifying or qualifying again and/or winning their final preps impressively, while others trained forwardly in preparation for Racing’s Championship Day. Others, unfortunately, took a step back or faded and found themselves struggling to keep their connections impressed enough to make the gate.

Spendthrift Farm’s Lord Nelson qualified (again) by winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (GI) on the West Coast, while A P Indian, who hasn’t lost a race in five tries this year, finally officially qualified with a nice nose win in the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes (GII) at Keeneland. Others have made the decision to skip all together, which only makes the top runners more difficult to separate.

Still the division leader, he’s been prepping impressively at Santa Anita since winning the Pat O’Brien (GI) at Del Mar this summer, including a bullet :45 2/5 from the gate on Oct. 13. The lightly raced son of Sought After will be attempting to better his 14th-place finish in this race at Keeneland a year ago. Trainer Ron Ellis is keeping his cards on this one close to his chest, but if how Masochistic has been training is any indication of how he’ll do in three weeks, his rivals will have their hands full.

Lord Nelson
First, he won the Bing Crosby (GI) at Del Mar this past summer to qualify for this race; then, he backed it up with a walloping of his competition in the Santa Anita Sprint last weekend. The flashy chestnut son of Pulpit really likes the track (five of his seven career wins came over the Santa Anita surface) and distance (three-time winner at six furlongs) and has done little wrong in the mornings and afternoons all year. He may very well be the favorite at post time and, if so, it’s safe to say he earned the distinction.

A. P. Indian
Hard to argue with another runner who is perfect in 2016, all in stakes and two Grade 1s. He won the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (GI) and Forego Stakes (GI) this summer before his sustained and deliberate stretch drive to win the Stoll Keenan Ogden Phoenix Stakes by a nose last weekend. With the majority of the top sprinters based at Santa Anita, this may be the leader of the pack of shippers and he’ll also be a tough customer on race day.

The sophomore son of Gio Ponti rolled into Saratoga and snatched up a Grade 1 win in his very first stakes in the King’s Bishop (GI) seven weeks ago. And while he hasn’t returned to action, he has trained well at his home base. He’s untested and untried against older horses, but loaded with talent.

This 7-year-old gelding, another top runner from the East, is heading into the Breeders’ Cup in peak form, riding a four-race win streak and bouncing into the big day off his impressive Vosburgh Stakes (GI) win. It will be a career moment for owner/trainer Charlton Baker and a good effort puts him in the mix for a larger prize.

Delta Bluesman
Won the Smile Sprint (GI) and is loaded with ability, but the Breeders’ Cup will be his toughest test.