One of the most highly anticipated matchups in this year's Breeders' Cup involves two fast and talented 3-year-old fillies, two-time Grade 1 winner Dream Rush and the undefeated La Traviata, in the new Filly and Mare Sprint. But if La Traviata's connections get what they want, this face-off won't happen.
"We're also thinking of the real Sprint," said Patrick Biancone, trainer of La Traviata, referring to the established Breeders' Cup Sprint open to males. "If we can get a spot in the colts race, the owners would want to do that. They're sportsmen, you know."
Indeed, La Traviata is owned in part by Michael Tabor, who had no reluctance running his filly Rags to Riches against males in the Belmont Stakes last June, and who was rewarded when she became the first filly in more than a century to win that event.
It's up to the Breeders' Cup Selection Committee whether La Traviata will face males in the Sprint. La Traviata has only four Breeders' Cup points, earned in her impressive romp in the Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes most recently, and she will not race again before the Breeders' Cup.
Even without La Traviata, many believe youth will be served in the F-M Sprint, for that is how impressive the 3-year-old filly sprinters have been this year. Dream Rush, who will also train up to the Cup after having to miss Saturday's Gallant Bloom Handicap due to minor illness, was unchallenged winning the Test and Prioress in her last two starts. La Traviata has won her three races by a total of 27 1/2 lengths. Baroness Thatcher, also trained by Biancone, missed by a nose against elders in the Grade 1 Ballerina most recently, and is pointing to Keeneland's Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes on Oct. 6.
"I hope we picked a good year for this, but I don't think it's a layup for the 3-year-olds," said Rick Violette Jr., trainer of Dream Rush.
"Let's put it this way," Biancone said. "We're very happy they created this race this year."