Discreet Cat's decision could shape race
The field for this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint should come into clearer focus by the end of the weekend with the three most important preps for the race - the Grade 1 Vosburgh, Grade 1 Ancient Title, and Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders' Cup - all scheduled for Saturday.
The biggest news in the division this week, however, was the announcement from the connections of Discreet Cat that their undefeated and virtually untested 3-year-old is now under consideration for the Sprint. If he were to point for the Sprint, it could have a profound impact on the size and makeup of the starting lineup.
Belmont's six-furlong Vosburgh will feature the first meeting between Henny Hughes, the leading 3-year-old sprinter, and reigning Breeders' Cup Sprint champion Silver Train. The field is also expected to include potential Sprint candidates War Front and Attila's Storm.
Henny Hughes is owned by Sheikh Rashid al-Maktoum's Zabeel Racing International and is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. Sheik Rashid is the son of Sheikh Mohammed, whose Godolphin Racing owns Discreet Cat.
McLaughlin, like almost everyone else in the racing industry, has expressed his utmost respect for Discreet Cat, but said that when it comes to the Sprint he "wouldn't trade places with anybody."
"Discreet Cat has proven he can do anything," said McLaughlin. "But his best distance might be eight or nine furlongs, and I think at six furlongs Henny Hughes would be very tough for him to beat.
"Henny Hughes is a very special horse and a very serious sprinter," he added. "It has to do with his heart, his lungs, and his breathing. He can go six furlongs in 1:08 and not blow out a match when he's finished. He just never gets tired."
McLaughlin said he's running Henny Hughes in the Vosburgh because of the prestige of the race itself, not solely as a prep.
"He doesn't need a prep," said McLaughlin. "He does well with time off between starts. But the Vosburgh is an important Grade 1 race, and it also gives him a chance to run once against older horses before the Breeders' Cup."
At Santa Anita, the Ancient Title features a rematch between local division kingpins Bordonaro and Pure as Gold. Bordonaro had a four-race win streak snapped when Pure as Gold outgamed him in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap this summer at Del Mar.
Bordonaro will use the Ancient Title as a springboard to the Sprint; Jack Carava, who trains Pure as Gold, is leaving his options open regarding the Breeders' Cup.
Silver Wagon, a stablemate of Silver Train, could be the most likely Sprint candidate to emerge from Keeneland's Phoenix.
Meanwhile, the list of horses who will forego a final Breeders' Cup prep grew again this week, with Too Much Bling and Commentator joining a group that already included potential Sprint candidates Pomeroy, Siren Lure, and Dubai Escapade.