Breeders Cup Sprint Trends
The BC Sprint is always a fantastic spectacle of a race, and it’s generally pretty hard to isolate the winner too. Or at least a look at the average payoff of $21.50 might lead you to think that. But perhaps some trends analysis will help sort the wheat from the chaff…
Firstly, as with all Breeders Cup races, it’s normally a bad move to forgive a bad run the last day a horse performed. Quite simply, a massive majority of BC contests go to a horse that showed form – either running 1-2-3, or within three or four lengths of the winner – last time, irrespective of age, track or trip.
So it is with the BC Sprint. All bar the freaky Midnight Lute had placed in the past two decades, with eleven of them winning, and six more finishing second.
All bar one winner of the Sprint in the 29 year history of the race had at least four starts that term. That outlier was, you guessed it, Midnight Lute. The average overall is seven prior seasonal starts, though in the past decade that comes down to a more conservative 5.2
One key feature of the Sprint is that horses tend to have had a longer break since their last race than in other Breeders Cup events. The average overall is 44 days off the track, and the ten year average is almost exactly the same at 43.3 days.
With that layoff angle looking material, it’s no big shock to learn that plenty of these absent friends fired ‘bullet’ workouts (i.e. fastest work of the day at that track, as reported in the Daily Racing Form) in the run up to the BC Sprint itself.
Trinniberg last year, and – of course – Midnight Lute in 2008, were the only two horses to have not won previously at the six furlong distance since 1987. A surprising number of fancied seven furlong specialists attempt this challenge, but they’re not speedy enough in general.
All except two BC Sprint winners had already won a Stakes race that season, with the two exceptions being Thor’s Echo and, you know the story by now, Midnight Lute.
Breeders Cup Sprint Key Prep Races
The key prep races for the Sprint are Bemont Park’s Vosburgh Stakes and Santa Anita’s Ancient Title (now Santa Anita Sprint Championship). This year, the Vosburgh was a ding-dong between Private Zone and Justin Phillip, as the betting had suggested it would be, and the former clung on from the latter. The pair were almost five lengths clear of the rest.
Out West, and the SA Sprint Championship went the way of Points Offthebench in another close call, with Goldencents. Again, the two were at the top of the market, with only the disappointing Trinniberg (last of seven) letting the form down. The one-two was an exact replica of the Bing Crosby run at Del Mar a couple of months earlier, and this pair look leading SoCal contenders.