Inside speed galore in Sprint
ARCADIA, Calif. - The post position draw for Saturday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita added a little further intrigue to the race after Zensational, the track's 7-5 morning-line favorite, drew the rail. Nine of the 11 horses pre-entered for the six-furlong Sprint were entered on Tuesday, with Square Eddie opting for his first preference, the Turf Sprint, and Kodiak Kowboy withdrawing due to illness.
Zensational brings a four-race winning streak into the Breeders' Cup which includes three straight Grade 1 victories. He broke from post 1 in each of his last two starts, easy wins in the Bing Crosby and Pat O'Brien stakes at Del Mar.
"I didn't want the rail; post 1 is not great," said trainer Bob Baffert, who won the previous two renewals of the Sprint with Midnight Lute. "He broke a little flat-footed in his last couple of races, but I took him back to the gate to work a few weeks ago and he flew out of there, so we're prepared for it. He's 7-5, so I've got that in my corner. Midnight Lute didn't draw great at Monmouth in 2007 and that worked out all right."
Victor Espinosa, who has been aboard Zensational in his last four wins, once again has the mount.
Zensational is one of three speed horses drawn to the inside for the Sprint. Cost of Freedom, who was scratched by the stewards on the advice of the track veterinarians on the morning of the 2008 Sprint, will break from post 2. Fatal Bullet, runner-up behind Midnight Lute after setting the pace in last year's Sprint, drew post 3.
"All the speed is in 1, 2, and 3," said Baffert. "If they all hook up on the lead it could be disastrous."
Fleeting Spirit, who finished fourth as the tepid favorite in the 2008 Turf Sprint, can also press the early running.
A speed duel would enhance the chances of confirmed closers such as Gayego, the 5-2 second choice in the morning line for the Sprint, Crown of Thorns, and Capt. Candyman Can.
Gayego rallied from far back with an explosive late turn of foot to defeat Crown of Thorns by 1 1/4 lengths here last month in the Grade 1 Ancient Title, the traditional West Coast prep for the Sprint. Gayego will break from post 5 on Saturday with Garrett Gomez back in the irons.
The 3-year-old Capt. Candyman Can, whose co-owner and breeder Dr. Joseph Rauch died suddenly last weekend, rallied to finish second, a half-length behind Fatal Bullet, in Keeneland's Grade 3 Phoenix while making his first start against older horses.
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