Showing posts with label Filly and Mare Sprint. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Filly and Mare Sprint. Show all posts

Monday, October 20, 2008

Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

(Pictured: The winner of last year's inaugural BC Filly and Mare Sprint, Maryfield)

By: T.R. Slyder,

2008 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint

As I see it, this race has 3 serious contenders and a few wild cards. We'll start with the contenders. Indian Blessing will definitely go off as the favorite. And for good reason. Since her connections committed her to sprinting, she has been 3-for-3 in two Grade 1s and a Grade 2, has won by a combined 18.5 lengths and has recorded Beyer Speed Figures of 109, 110 and 110. Oh, early this year she set the Santa Anita track record at 6.5 Furlongs- regardless of gender. As impressive a resume as that is, other horses figure to contest her.

Namely, Ventura and Zaftig. Ventura is owned by Juddmonte Farms, trained by Bobby Frankel and is a Grade 1-winning turf miler. So Friday's race will be scaling back her favorite distance by a furlong, and switching from turf to synthetic. If her talent is able to translate equally from grass miles to 7 furlongs on the dirt she ought to be in this race to the wire. That "if" however, is a rather formidable one. Zaftig is a middle distance ace, coming off impressive Grade 3 and Grade 1 wins over 7F and a mile, respectively. In her last out race at a mile, she defeated the aforementioned/highly praised Indian Blessing by 4.5 lengths in the Grade 1 Acorn. She's the last horse to have beaten Indian Blessing, and earned a Beyer of 113 while doing so, which is 3 points higher than Indian Blessing's career high. Since that race, Indian Blessing has shortened her distance to sprints, and is 3-for-3 as mentioned above. Whereas in that same timespan, Zaftig has not raced. So the question then, is whether the change in distance, and sprint-experience of Indian Blessing will be enough to reverse the results of their last encounter. However that isn't the only question, there are still a few x-factors left to uncover.

Dearest Tickski has all the trappings (what is a trapping, by the way?) of a very solid Grade 1, synthetic surface 7 Furlong sprinter. She has even won a Grade 1 over the Santa Anita surface at this distance, but I'm not sure what to do with her. From a Beyer standpoint, she's a notch or two below the top 3 in this race, and her running style is a concern. I may be taking to heart too much what I read earlier about Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface not rewarding front-runners, but that is a major concern here for this one-run style filly. She's talented, she's accomplished, etc. But I can't be sold on a one-run style of sprinter in this field. Of course, if she does win I'll immediately say "I knew she had a chance...". The X-iest (I'm just assuming that's a word) Factor is a Chilean invader named, not coincidentally, Lady Sprinter. She's 8-for-8 in Chilean dirt sprints and is a Grade 1 winner. Her recent workouts at Santa Anita have been solid, but not eye-popping, but if she gets a few breaks and runs her race she could certainly hit the board here. Lastly, is the Irish horse Psalm who won her last race in a Grade 3 race in Ireland by 8 lengths against the boys in a 7F grass sprint. That is clearly the standout race of her career, but much like Ventura, if her grass talent can translate directly into synthetic talent, she has every right to be among the leaders heading for home.

There are still other horses in this race that are receiving a fair amount of attention, that I feel are over matched. The speedester Indyanne will undoubtedly get some respect at the window, but she's ever gone past 6F, never raced in a Grade 2 or Grade 3, and has yet to prove that she'll enjoy the added distance of Friday's race. Intagaroo is also a talented filly, who has won at 7F, and has even won three Grade 1s at this distance. What I don't like about her is that she has raced 11 of her 13 races on synthetic and her two highest Beyer Speed Figures have occurred on the two races she raced on dirt. Talented horse, but tough to like given Santa Anita's surface in this company.

So what will happen here? I don't really know, but I would suggest that this race would be a great opportunity to "go shopping" and try a bunch of different combinations, because this race has a lot of uncertainty, and crazy things can happen in a BC Sprint. It's tough to be certain about a sprint race before knowing the post positions, and everyone's last works, But I'll make do with the info I have.

1. Zaftig- I think if everyone runs to their ability, she'll win. I like her late-running style, not only because of the surface, but because I think this race will have a lot of front-end traffic, and I wouldn't be surprised if Indian Blessing is part of that and is possibly weakened as a result.

2. Intagaroo- I want to have an original pick at some point and not just regurgitate the three favorites everytime. What I like about her is that she still finishes well in races were not everything goes her way, and won't be daunted by this large field. She has ran past tired horses in traffic before and ought to be running late. She's worth a shot at the price she'll be at.

3. Indian Blessing- She's too talented for me to exclude from the top 3.

For the latest on this race check this out.