The biggest head-scratcher of the two-day Breeders' Cup World Championships could well be the inaugural running of the $1-million Turf Sprint Oct. 25.
Set for Santa Anita's unique hillside turf course at about 6 1/2 furlongs, a field of 14 is set to run. Get Funky, who has won two of three starts over the layout, is the 9-2 morning line favorite for leading Southern California trainer John Sadler.
Get Funky ran second in the Morvich Handicap (gr. IIIT) to open the Oak Tree meet Sept. 24, beaten three lengths by BC Sprint rival California Flag, who registered a 22-1 upset in a record time of 1:11 for the downhill course. California Flag, trained by Brian Koriner, is 15-1 on the morning line.
The 4-year-old Avenue of Flags gelding drew post 10 in the big field with Joe Talamo riding.
"It's a good draw. The thing I'm always concerned about is speed outside us," Koriner said. "There is some there but we've got most of them inside of us. We are OK with it."
The Irish-bred filly Fleeting Spirit has a pair of group II sprint victories in Great Britain, and has competed against males in her last three starts. Last time out, the 3-year-old daughter of Invincible ran fifth in Longchamp's Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp (Fr-I) Oct. 5. She has not won at a distance greater than five furlongs.
Godolphin's Diabolical, winner of the A.G. Vandrbilt (gr. II) in July 2007, returns to the U.S. for the first time this year. The 5-year-old son of Artax lost his last start, a group II race at Ascot Sept. 28, by a neck.
Riding a five-race winning streak, the speed burner Mr. Nightlinger has been dominant on the turf in Kentucky and Illinois this season for trainer Bret Calhoun. He drew the far outside post.
"We've got enough speed to position," Calhoun said. I'm not that familiar with the turf course here, and I just hope we leave sharp."
Idiot Proof, second in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and a grade I winner on Santa Anita's old Cushion Track surface, switches to turf after a sub-par effort in the Ancient Title (gr. I) in his last start.
The 4-year-old son of Benchmarkworked :49 for four furlongs on the turf Oct. 21, causing trainer Clifford Sise Jr. to comment: "He really wanted to go today. The last time he worked on the turf, he was looking around and not doing much. But today he wanted to run and he looked good doing it."
|Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint|
|1.||Heros Reward||Javier Castellano||Dale Capuano||8-1|
|2.||Fleeting Spirit||Johnny Murtagh||Jeremy Noseda||5-1|
|3.||True to Tradition||Kendrick Carmouche||Scott A. Lake||15-1|
|4.||Only Answer||Olivier Pesslier||Andre Fabre||20-1|
|5.||Salute the Count||Eibar Coa||Richard E. Dutrow, Jr.||12-1|
|6.||Storm Treasure||Shaun Bridgmohan||Steve Asmussen||12-1|
|7.||Rouse the Cat||Edgar Prado||Ollie L. Figgins, III||20-1|
|8.||Diabolical||Frankie Dettori||Saeed bin Suroor||6-1|
|9.||Desert Code||Richard Miglioire||David E. Hofmans||30-1|
|10.||California Flag||Joe Talamo||Brian J. Koriner||15-1|
|11.||Idiot Proof||Garrett Gomez||Clifford W. Sise, Jr.||8-1|
|12.||One Union||Victor Espinoza||Richard E. Mandella||15-1|
|13.||Get Funky||Jose Valdivia, Jr.||John W. Sadler||9-2|
|14.||Mr. Nightlinger||Jamie Theriot||Bret Calhoun||6-1|