Few races that should have a major impact on the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) were run this past weekend, but one major contender, Say Florida Sandy, was in action. And, the 7-year-old gelding won again, taking the Patterson Handicap at The Meadowlands by 1 1/2 lengths over Disco Rico.
Say Florida Sandy has been on top of his game of late. Prior to the Patterson, he won the Philadelphia Park Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), ran second, beaten a head, in the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. II), and finished second, beaten a neck, in the True North Handicap (gr. II) on Belmont Stakes Day.
The son of Personal Flag has won six of 11 starts this year -- and been second four times -- but it is important to point out that at the Breeders' Cup Sprint distance of six furlongs, he has won six of seven races in 2001.
An earner of $1.7 million, Say Florida Sandy races for John Rotella and is trained by Juan Serey.
Obviously the leader of the Sprint division is defending Breeders' Cup champion and Eclipse Award winner Kona Gold. In fact, with the retirement of Point Given and the loss by Tiznow last weekend in the Woodward Stakes (gr. I), Kona Gold took the top spot on the NTRA's poll of the top 10 horses in training, just ahead of Tiznow conqueror Lido Palace.
Kona Gold won last year's Sprint at Churchill Downs in a blistering track-record time -- 1.07.77 -- and has done nothing to tarnish his image so far this year. Expertly trained by co-owner Bruce Headley, Kona Gold is unbeaten in three starts in 2001, most recently winning the Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) in a thrilling match up with Caller One. The 7-year-old gelded son of Java Gold, who is co-owned by Irwin Molasky, his son, Andrew, and Michael Singh, will have his final Breeders' Cup prep in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Oct. 6.
Another serious Sprint candidate could make his next start on the same day. Bet On Sunshine, who finished third by just a length in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, may run next in the Oct. 6 Phoenix Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland.
Bet On Sunshine is a sentimental favorite among racing fans. He is now a 9-year-old who has been carefully trained throughout his career for owner David Holloway by Paul McGee. He has won half of his 40 lifetime starts and only been worse than third five times. The son of Bet Big has made just three starts in 2001, won his last two, and appears to be rounding into top form again at the right time of the year.
Two others big races for this division occur on Sept. 22, the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) over seven furlongs at Belmont Park, and the six-furlong Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. II) at Turfway Park.