Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint 2011 – First Look at The Potential Field

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If the past few years have been any indication, this may be perhaps the most wide open Breeder’s Cup event of the entire two day event. The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint a Grade 2, $1 million race, and is part of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for thoroughbreds, three years old and up. There is no set distance for the Turf Sprint as it depends on the host tracks’ turf course.

The regular Breeders’ Cup Sprint which has been part of the card since the first Cup in 1984 has invariably been run at six furlongs, but this race is a relatively new addition to the Breeders’ Cup lineup, the inaugural running taking place in 2008 at Santa Anita Park, for which the about 6 ½ furlong downhill turf course was used.  The Breeders’ Cup was held the following year at Santa Anita as well and remained at the same distance.

Churchill Downs hosted the festivities last year and their turf sprints are run at five furlongs, and so was the Turf Sprint, making it the shortest distance Breeders’ Cup race.  Last years’ winner was Chamberlain Bridge, who completed the race in 56.53 seconds.  The first four finishers were all midrange long shots, starting with Chamberlain Bridge at 7-1, followed by two 9-1 shots, and then a 13-1 price.  The superfecta paid $8,815 as a result.

The tepid favorite last year was Silver Timber who went off at 3-1, but he could only manage fifth.  To illustrate how close these races usually are, the first six finishers were separated by less than three lengths.  The prior year, the first eight finishers all crossed the wire within about 3 ½ lengths of each other. Although the favorite California Flag did win, he was a lukewarm favorite at 7/2.  In 2008, the longest shot in the entire field, Desert Code upset the race at odds of 36-1, and the third place finisher went off at 16-1. To show how chaotic that race was, the trifecta that year returned $6,184 on a $1 bet, and the $1 superfecta paid out even more than the prior year –  $29,663.30, which is not bad for a $1 investment.

Very few foreign invaders have ended up running in this race, which is surprising, as they conduct a lot of turf sprints over in Europe, and the pot is $1 million.  There have been a few, but they have scratched before race day. 

The venue for the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships has not been determined, but the finalists are Santa Anita Park, who hosted in 2008, Churchill Downs who hosted in 2010 and will host this year, and Belmont Park. Belmont has not hosted the event since 2005, and if they are selected, the turf sprint may be held at a distance of seven furlongs, although they run turf sprints at six furlongs as well, so it could go either way.

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