Sprint Preview: Question the Answer
Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2001 7:42 PM
Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2001 11:44 AM
Can Kona Gold become the first repeat winner of the Sprint?
"Alex, I'll take Breeders' Cup trivia for a thousand." "The answer is: Cardmania and Elmhurst." "Who are the only geldings to win a Breeders' Cup race?"
"Who are the only Breeders' Cup Sprint winners to start their careers in France?"
"Who are the oldest two winners of Breeders' Cup races?"
"That's right, Paul McGee. Don Pardo, give that man a case of Rice-A-Roni."
McGee, the trainer of Bet On Sunshine, would know the answer because Bet On Sunshine is a 9-year-old, two years the senior of Cardmania and Elmhurst were when they won the Sprint (gr. I).
Any writer worth his laptop wouldn't have to think hard for a lead should Bet On Sunshine win the Sprint. And with two second-place finishes to his credit, there is no reason to think he can't.
In 1997, Bet On Sunshine was also a solid choice in the Sprint, going off 8-1 in a wide-open race in which the favorite, Men's Exclusive, was one of two 3-1 choices. For all the money at Hollywood Park, Bet On Sunshine was third, beaten a half-length by Elmhurst and a neck by Hesabull.
Three years later, on his home track, Churchill Downs, Bet On Sunshine was sent off at 20-1 and again came charging late. He was beaten a length by Kona Gold, a half-length by Honest Lady. At age eight, Bet On Sunshine was right there in a six-furlong race run in a sizzling 1:07.77.
This year, Bet On Sunshine has won three of four starts, his final prep for the Breeders' Cup a win in Keeneland's Phoenix Breeders' Cup (gr. III) on Oct. 6, a day on which his owner, David Holloway, celebrated his 71st birthday.
Last year, in the Turf (gr. IT), 9-year-old John's Call became the oldest horse to hit the board in a Breeders' Cup race when he ran third. Could Bet On Sunshine become the oldest winner of a Breeders' Cup race?
To win the Sprint, Bet On Sunshine, and everyone else for that matter, will have to outrun defending champ Kona Gold. This dynamite sprinter is competing in the race for the fourth straight year, having finished third in 1998 and second in 1999 before taking home the trophy a year ago.
There has never been a repeat winner of the Sprint in the 17-year history of the event, but Kona Gold could be the one, even though he enters the race off a loss. Consider that when he was beaten Oct. 6 in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup (gr. I), he was giving winner Swept Overboard 11 pounds and had not run in 11 weeks.
He also wasn't beaten by a slouch. Swept Overboard is bred for speed and trained by Craig Dollase, who won the Sprint in 1998 with Reraise.
If horses for courses are your thing, then look no further than Delaware Township, who won the Oct. 7 Forest Hills Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont and is now three-for-four at the site of this year's Breeders' Cup.
Or, if you like horses shortening up, look no further than El Corredor, whose gutsy performances at a mile make one wonder what he will be like at two furlongs less.
Like a fresh horse? Caller One is a top West Coast sprinter who is being trained up to the race. It will be 14 weeks since his last start.
Fillies have performed well in the past, winning three Sprints. Xtra Heat has plenty of gas; class the only question mark.
Then there is Mozart, who will be named champion sprinter in Europe. Can he handle the turf-to-dirt switch? Sheikh Albadou did in 1991.
Any more answers, Alex?
Not until Oct. 27.
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