Breeders' Cup Sprint
Saturday, Oct. 25, Oak Tree at Santa Anita
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The Low-Down: The Breeders Cup Sprint brings a field of nine to the starting blocks. This race is equivalent to the 100-meter dash at the Olympics. We are looking for the fastest Thoroughbred instead of the fastest Jamaican. Defending champ MIDNIGHT LUTE returns to the Sprint. Before Usain Bolt turned his event into a laugher at the Olympics, MIDNIGHT LUTE had already done the same to his peers a year earlier when winning this race by a ridiculous 4 3/4-length margin at Monmouth Park over the slop. He looms large for Team Baffert. The morning-line favorite's role actually falls on the Bruce Headley-trained colt STREET BOSS. 'BOSS' had a five-race win streak snapped in his last start by the hot, new face to the sprinting scene, COST OF FREEDOM. 'FREEDOM' has now rattled off three wins in a row for trainer John Sadler, and sports an impressive five-for-five record at this 6-furlong distance. Speedball FABULOUS STRIKE makes only his third start of the year, but is a horse that demands respect after a career of huge speed-figure performances. He will have to work hard for his customary spot on the lead, because other speed-happy horses like FATAL BULLET and BLACK SEVENTEEN figure to be right off his flank. FIRST DEFENCE looks to do his best impression of former Sprint champ Squirtle Squirt for his Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. IN SUMMATION comes in off a third-place finish in the Ancient Title behind COST OF FREEDOM and STREET BOSS. He has proven to be a very competitive sprinter at the top level. Rounding out the field is big longshot SING BABY SING, the only horse in the field that would be a legitimate surprise to these clocker eyes.
Our Eyes: After watching film like a caffeine-intensified Bill Belichick, there were a few things I found worth mentioning. The Ancient Title is where three of the nine Sprint entrants had their final prep -- STREET BOSS, COST OF FREEDOM and IN SUMMATION. 'FREEDOM' took advantage of a perfect outside post and got the picture-perfect ride by Tyler Baze, sitting right off the flank of the three horses contesting for the lead. STREET BOSS turned in his customary late run with jockey David Flores allowing him to float unusually wide; he simply came up second best on the day. IN SUMMATION had the worst of it. He sat bottled-up right off the heels of the leaders and inside of 'FREEDOM.' He wanted to go on the turn, but had no room. At the quarter-pole, he lost important momentum when having to check because of traffic and was only able to get clear inside the three-sixteenths pole. Once clear, he lost stride again when appearing to get intimidated by STREET BOSS floating into his lane. With a little luck in the traffic department Saturday, 'SUMMATION' could surprise many.
BLACK SEVENTEEN also deserves attention. His win in the Vosburgh was as game a win as you are going to see. He chased the pace early, then engaged the front group on the turn while a minimum of four-wide every step. He dug in down the stretch with grit and determination for a head victory. On a workout note, don't be scared of rumors that this guy does not work well. He has NEVER been a good work horse. Take a look at the price he paid first time out at Del Mar in 2006. As a 2-year-old, he ran 1:10.20 first time out! The reason he paid 12-to-1 was because he simply does not impress in the a.m. His trainer, Brian Koriner, has even commented on that fact numerous occasions.
From a workout perspective, I am forced to relay information from my fellow clocker and Horseplayer Pro analyst Toby Turrell. Toby is not one to spout out hyperboles very often when describing how he felt about a work. But even he could not contain his excitement when describing how good MIDNIGHT LUTE looked in his Oct. 13 drill:
"After 'LUTE' hit the wire in an amazing :56-3/5 for 5 furlongs, (trainer Bob) Baffert yelled down the way, 'Was that one good enough for you!!!???'
In my 25 years of clocking, this work from the son of Real Quiet was perhaps in my top five of all time. I can't make a stronger statement than this, as I have witnessed some great works from great horses all over the country in recent years."
The Bottom Line: MIDNIGHT LUTE is a legit freak. A traffic-free trip will put him in the winner's circle. But races do not always unfold in a trouble-free manner. If jockey Garrett Gomez is unable to keep this big sucker clear of obstacles, then the race becomes wide open. IN SUMMATION gets my vote for value of the race. This guy appears to be rounding back into top form at the right time. He proved he can handle this track in his troubled third Sept. 27 and his four wins in eight starts at the distance is nothing to sneeze at. I think he might be ignored for all the wrong reasons. A little racing luck puts him in a great position to take down a major share.
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