Breeders’ Cup Picks & Previews: Turf Sprint, by Paul Hundley

Breeders’ Cup Race Previews and Picks

Turf Sprint

by Paul Hundley


All week long on Danonymous Racing, we’ll have picks & analysis for all 13 Breeders’ Cup races from the Danonymous cast. Here, we’ve got the Turf Sprint, as analyzed by Paul Hundley. Paul’s covered Florida and New York racing for the site in the past. Good luck!

Recent Winners:

2016: Obviously
2015: Mongolian Saturday
2014: Bobby’s Kitten
2013: Mizdirection
2012: Mizdirection
The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint will be run for the 10th time this year, and for only the 3rd time at the 5 furlong distance. It’s been run 6 times on the 6 1/2 furlong downhill at Santa Anita, and once at 5 1/2 furlongs two years ago when it was run at Keeneland. So past history may not help with deciphering a winner this year. Though only 9 runnings, it’s almost unfathomable to think not one European import has won this race, considering how much success they’ve had in all the other Breeders’ Cup Turf events. 
The big names in this year’s race include Lady Aurelia, the morning line favorite despite being a 3 year old filly that has only run 7 races in an 18 month career. Marsha is the 2nd choice, and defeated Aurelia 2 back in a Group 1. Then there’s Disco Partner, who set a World Record for 6 furlongs on turf earlier this year in the Jaipur at Belmont. There’s also the 2015 Champ in Mongolian Saturday trying to recapture past glory. Let’s take a horse by horse look at this year’s  field.
1-Disco Partner won Belmont Turf Sprint last out relatively easy over a small field of 4 other competitors. Has all 3 of his Sprint races this year (4 if you count the 1 mile Forbidden Apple at Belmont) and as mentioned, set a World Record for 6 furlongs in June. Has never been today’s 5 furlong distance, however, and with his off the pace style, one would think the short distance and more importantly the short stretch of the Turf course (813 feet) will work against him. Is interesting to note that during the summer meet here, 25 races were held at this 5 furlong distance, and 56% of the winners, or 14 of 25, were off the pace or closer type of horses. Also the rail was very favorable as 5 of 25 came from there to win. Legit shot to win this.
2-Holding Gold is another off the pace type but has not had the success that Disco Partner has had this year. Ran 3rd in that record breaking Jaipur, beaten 1 length. Ran a nice 2nd but no match to the retired Green Mask two back in the $250K Troy Handicap. Last out got off to a bad start at Parx before finishing 6th, less than 2 lengths beaten. Did win the G2 Shakertown at Keeneland earlier thread, beating Green Mask as well as a couple of today’s rivals, Hogy and Mongolian Saturday. The odds are good, but his chances of winning aren’t.
3-Lady Aurelia  has quite the reputation considering only 7 career races, and just 2 of them on U.S. soil. A 2 time Group 1 winner in Europe, and was just nosed out last time by today’s rival Marsha in the Group 1 Nunthorpe. Will probably be a little closer to the pace than her rivals to the inside, and she’s getting 2-5 lbs from the field. Strong contender, but you didn’t need me to tell you that.
4-Stormy Liberal will probably be stalking just a length or 2 off pace early. Last ran in the aforementioned Jaipur all the way back on June 10. That snapped a 4 race win streak, though it should be noted all 4 were on the Santa Anita downhill, which plays towards route horses more than sprinters. Has never ran at today’s distance, and has not won at Del Mar in 3 tries (3-0-2-0). Do like the switch to Joel Rosario in the jockey position. Has made over a quarter million since being claimed for $40K 1 year ago. Mixed feelings, but was very unsuccessful last out, and though he has proven he can run well fresh, hasn’t done it versus this level.
5-Washington DC just ran 2 weeks ago in the British Champions Stakes, a well beaten midpack finish as a longshot. Was also well beaten 2 back vs Marsha, Lady Aurelia and Cotai Glory. Ran in this race last year at Santa Anita and was well beaten 7th/13. Has finished behind Aurelia and Marsha several times in past, I can’t see today being different. Looking elsewhere.
6-Marsha is, odds-wise at least, the main rival to Lady Aurelia. As mentioned, did defeat main rival 2 back by a nose. Last out, was 2nd in Group 1 Prix de L’Abbaye de Longchamp beaten 4 lengths on soft turf. Makes North American debut and is getting Lasix for the 1st time. As mentioned before, no European import has won this race, but I don’t put much into that, and Marsha is a definite “Stranger Danger”, so to speak.
7-Richard’s Boy may be the best of the California contingent in the race. Almost went gate to wire last out in the California Flag Stakes before settling 2nd, beaten 1/2 length. Was a close 3rd two back in the Green Flash at Del Mar. Not sure if his experience on the course is much of an advantage, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s 4-2-1-1 here and has 4 wins from 8 attempts at the distance. Would imagine he will either be on the lead or within a length early. His early speed makes him dangerous as 8 of the 25 races in the summer were won gate to wire, however it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to hold off this field late.
8-Cotai Glory makes 2nd North American start after 2nd in G2 Nearctic at Woodbine. If last race is any indication of running style, will probably be sitting 2-3 lengths off early. Does not have a win in 9 starts this year, and only 1 in the last 18 starts. Has also finished behind Lady Aurelia, Marsha, and Washington DC multiple times in the past. Not much to suggest that changes today.
9-Mongolian Saturday has 1 win since his 2015 win in this race at Keeneland, and is 7-0-2-2 in 2017. Has been beaten by Pure Sensation, Holding Gold, and Hogy, all longshots here, this season. Certainly a contender for exotics with off the pace style, but I don’t see him becoming a 2 time Breeders’ Cup Champion today.
10-Hogy launched a tremendous late run to in G2 Woodford last out, making up over 4 lengths in stretch to finish 2nd. Won the G3 Kentucky Turf Sprint at Kentucky Downs 2 back after being claimed 3 back by Mike Maker. Puts Blinkers On today and switches to Jose Ortiz, who with Maker is 28% together last 36 together. Some things to like, and maybe the blinkers will have him closer to the pace, but has never seemed like he was able to compete vs the best turf sprinters.
11-Bucchero surprised everyone just about in the previously mentioned Woodford, sitting behind early leader before unleashing a mid race move that carried him to a 1 3/4 length win at 26-1. While that was his by far his best performance of career on turf, has displayed ability on dirt as well. Plus is in great form, 3  wins in a row, 1 by DQ, 4 of last 6. Only poor performance recently was going 2 turns on the dirt at Indiana Grand. Plus, it seems like Jockey Fernando De La Cruz gets the most out of this horse, since the last 5 times he has ridden him all resulted in wins. He’s 3/6 at the distance (ish) Granted who he beat in Woodford weren’t what he is facing today, but outside of the top three choices in here, looks to me having the best chance at pulling the upset.
12-Pure Sensation was 3rd in race last year, and has competed, and beaten, a few of these in here in the past including Disco Partner. Won G3 Turf Monster last out at Parx by 1/2 length over Mongolian Saturday, but has had several disappointing efforts this year as well. Is adaptable in that he can be on or near the lead, or come from slightly off the pace. Has a good record at the distance (10-6-0-0), it’s too bad he can’t take the Parx turf with him, where he has won 3 in a row at. At his best would be an upset candidate, but hasn’t been consistent enough this year to warrant. Possibly underneath at best.
13AE-Guns Loaded seems to like the Santa Anita downhill than the shorter 5F distance today that he’s 0-2 at. Even if he does draw in will have to deal with outside draw that hasn’t been kind to begin with. Pass.
14AE-Paquita Coqueta has early speed but out of the money in 5 of 6 turf starts this year, lone win was on Santa Anita downhill. As with Guns Loaded, even if she draws in will have to deal with the outside. Does have a win at Del Mar last year.
Even though he has not been today’s 5 furlong distance, 1-DISCO PARTNER impressed me in his last performance with how little he actually ran to overwhelm foes. With Aurelia and Marsha in here I think we should get 4-1, 5-1. Lady Aurelia is too good to not be in the exacta, and I will drop her in for second. Bucchero rates the biggest shot for me, and I will include him in all exotics. Marsha rounds out my superfecta, and would not be a surprise to me or most anyone if she wins. Going to use all 4 in any multi race bet, plus box all 4 for an exacta and trifecta. Thanks for reading, now let’s cash some tickets!

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