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2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint Contenders – An Early Preview

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By Author: Lee Lane-Edgar
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Giant Ryan has stamped his ticket for the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint this fall at Churchill Downs by taking the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap over the weekend at Calder Race Course. He won his first graded stakes by a neck and ensured his place in the fall race under the “win and you’re in” rule. He earned a career best 105 Beyer Speed Figure and is now a horse that needs to be considered for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. This victory marked his fifth consecutive win so he certainly knows how to win.

Big Drama earned the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any horse this year, earning a 120 back on January 15th at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes. He hasn’t been seen since and is being freshened for a summer and fall campaign. Obviously he is at the top of the division, being the defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner, and since the race will again be held at Churchill Downs, that should give Big Drama the additional advantage of getting to race on a surface over which he is proven. The 120 Speed Figure he earned in the Mr. Prospector was by far the strongest number he had been ...
... given to date – in fact he won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with only a 108, so arguably he is stronger this year than he was when he won the Sprint last year, which makes him even more formidable. Of course he has been away awhile so he may need a race or two to get back into razor sharp form.

The west coast’s main hope is the talented Smiling Tiger, who finished third in last year’s Breeder’s Cup Sprint to Big Drama, but only beaten 1 ¾ lengths by that one. Since then, he has won three graded stakes – the Grade 2 San Carlos, the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park, and most recently, the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park. In this latter race he earned his career best Beyer of 112, so this talented four year old may be coming into his own this year.

Trappe Shot has been racing on the east coast and like both Big Drama and Smiling Tiger, his last race was arguably his most powerful. He last out decimated five rivals in the Grade 2 True North by 8 ½ lengths, and was widening with every stride. He earned a 111 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, also a career high for him. He has now won six of nine career starts. He is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin who is having an outstanding year so far.

Aikenite has won a pair of Grade 2 sprints this year, and so merits consideration, although his Beyer Speed Figures have been comparatively low, earning a 102 and 100 for those efforts, so he will have to step it up a bit. Nevertheless, one of those races was at Churchill Downs, the site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup, and in that race he defeated eleven other horses, so he definitely has some class.

The 2011 Breeder’s Cup Sprint will be run on Saturday, November 5, 2011.

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