In the Sprint, the Lucky Number is Five

While we'll have to wait until Wednesday morning for the post position draw for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, the connections of the runners in the TVG Sprint (gr. I) may be thrilled if their horse pulls the number five post.

In the previous 21 runnings of the six-furlong speed fest, the winner has come out of the lucky five post five times, the latest being Artax in 1999. Oddly enough posts six and seven have yet to produce a Sprint winner.

Post positions that may call for an Excedrin moment for owners and trainers will be the far outside two posts -- 12 and 13, and strange but true, the rail.

With the defection over the weekend of Live Oak Plantation's High Fly from the Sprint, only 13 pre-entered runners remain. No horse has come out of the 12, 13, or 14 hole to win the Sprint. However, just to the inside of those spots have proven to be a solid road to success.

Three winners each have come from the 10 and 11 post positions, including a flurry of winners of late. Cajun Beat shot to the lead from post 11 in 2003 at Santa Anita. Orientate and Kona Gold are among the winners to come from post 10 in 2002 (Arlington Park) and 2000 (Churchill Downs), respectively.

The biggest focus at the draw for the Sprint will be on even-money morning-line favorite Lost in the Fog. The unbeaten son of Lost Soldier has won from the rail and as far out as post 10 in his 10-race career. Trainer Greg Gilchrist pondered the potential post for his front-running speedster last week. And the unanswerable, for now, question remains: to gun for the lead or to take back slightly off the pace.

"Although in most of his races he's been right on the lead all the way, that's not necessarily been by design," Gilchrist said. "He is a racehorse that can lay off of them. We train that way a lot in the morning, taking him off horses when we work him.

"I would think if we draw way to the inside, we're just going to send," he said. "It takes away that option of being in the middle to outside where you can lay off a horse. But he's faced pretty much all of it. They'll be nothing new to him there."

The only horse to win from post 1 in the Sprint is Smile, way back in 1986. However, post two has produced three winners, including last year's victor, Speightstown , who battled down along the rail inside of horses just behind splints of :21.23 and :43.47.

In the three previous Breeders' Cups at Belmont Park, one Sprint winner came from post three (Squirtle Squirt), the other two from post four (Desert Stormer, Safely Kept).

Post Positions and winners for the Breeders' Cup Sprint

PP – Winner (Year)

1 – Smile ('86)
2 – Speightstown ('04), Dancing Spree ('89), Precisionist ('85)
3 – Squirtle Squirt ('01), Reraise ('98)
4 – Desert Stormer ('95), Safely Kept ('90)
5 – Artax ('99), Elmhurst ('97), Lit de Justice ('96), Cardmania ('93), Ellio ('84)
6 – None
7 – None
8 – Thirty Slews ('92)
9 – Sheikh Albadou ('91)
10 – Orientate ('02), Kona Gold ('00), Gulch ('88)
11 – Cajun Beat ('03), Cherokee Run ('94), Very Subtle ('87)
12 – None
13 – None
14 - None