Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

The Breeders Cup Sprint: A Kowboy, A Bullet, A Candyman and A Zensation

Posted by Brian Appleton on October 23, 2009



Kodiak Kowboy1

Kodiak Kowboy


   Before I get into the actual topic of this post I want to go over a couple major updates that could affect the Breeders Cup. 

Macho Again1

Macho Again

Gitano Hernando1

Gitano Hernando

   First, the announcement by West Point Thoroughbreds President and CEO Terry Finley that Macho Again will bypass the Breeders Cup Classic (gr.1) after developing a cough following his breeze at Santa Anita Park October 17. He will instead be pointed towards the Clark Handicap (gr. 2) on November 27 at Churchill Downs. Another defection came when Team Valor International announced that Gitano Hernando will also bypass the Breeders Cup Classic.  The connections feel the long-shot winner of the Goodwood Stakes (gr.1) ran too hard last out to be reeled back after such a relatively short rest.  He will be sent to England in preparation for the Dubai World Cup (gr.1) but will remain in light training at Santa Anita until then.  Summer Bird tested new waters October 17 when he had his first workout over the Pro-Ride synthetics at Santa Anita. Trainer Tim Ice timed his star pupil going 1:01.96 and said he feels Summer Bird is peaking.  Summer Bird holds the distinction of being the only horse since Easy Goer in 1989 to win the Belmont stakes (gr.1), Travers Stakes (gr.1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr.1) in a single year.  Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, said the Kentucky Derby winner will have his next five furlong work on Monday.  Einstien is being touted as the somewhat forgotten horse of late heading into the Classic and trainer Helen Pitts says that’s exactly the way she likes it. “I like that he will come in fresh; he’s run some of his best races fresh. He won the ‘Big Cap’ (Santa Anita Handicap-gr.1) off of six or seven weeks (rest), the Woodford (Woodford Reserve Turf Classic-gr.1T) off two months and the Clark (Clark Handicap-gr.1) off more than three months. He’ll be ready.” Pitts also said Einstien will have one more work October 25 in Kentucky before shipping to Santa Anita with a tentatively scheduled work over the Pro-Ride on November 1.

Fabulous Strike1

Fabulous Strike

   Last month it appeared the Sentient Jet Breeders Cup Sprint could be short two of the country’s leading sprinters in Fabulous Strike and Kodiak Kowboy, however that is no longer the case.  Kodiak Kowboy is now headed for his chance at glory in the Breeders Cup Sprint where he will meet a formidable cast of contenders.



   The heavy favorite in this race will most likely be Zensational, the incredibly fast, unrelenting Bob Baffert trainee who has taken the west coast sprint division by storm this year.  Zensational is on a red hot four race win streak, the last three being consecutive Grade 1’s. He turned in one of his customary powerhouse performances in the Pat O’Brien Stakes (gr. 1) at Del Mar. A little slow to come out of the gate he quickly compensated and rushed to the front. Coming to the turn he had several lengths on the field and it appeared they were closing on him. Into the turn and they were at his flanks, then in the blink of an eye, they were nowhere. Asked by jockey Victor Espinoza for more run at the top of the lane he willingly left the field behind and sauntered across the line 2 ¼ lengths the best. This horse runs like no other I have ever seen. As soon as the gate opens he shoves his head in the air and charges to the lead, looking for all the world like an equine version of Eric Lidell. This horse doesn’t want anything in front of him, and he has the raw speed to make sure it never happens. His races appear to be carbon copies of each other; rush from the gate, seize the lead, open up on the field, appear beat when the field closes in at the turn, then burst away with freakish speed yet again and he’s home free.

Fatat Bullet1

Fatal Bullet

   Last year’s Breeders Cup Sprint runner-up and Canada’s 2008 Horse of the Year and Champion Sprinter is back for another try. Fatal Bullet hasn’t had as stellar a year as he did in 2008, but he is beginning to pick up speed, and may just be at his best come Breeders Cup day. He started the year with a victory in the Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine in Canada, followed by an uncustomary last place finish in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (gr.2) in August at Saratoga. In the Phoenix Stakes (gr.3) he outlasted the late surge of Capt. Candyman Can by half a length to achieve another victory and secure himself a spot in the Sentient Jet Breeders Cup Sprint.  He has shown an affinity for synthetic tracks and has run well over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride so he may have something still to say.


Capt. Candyman Can

   Capt. Candyman Can has one grade 1 victory to his credit in the Kings Bishop Stakes.  First place finisher Vineyard Haven was disqualified in the Kings Bishop Stakes to second for bumping in the stretch and Capt. Candyman Can was moved to first place instead. Last out the talented three year old colt was defeated by Fatal Bullet in the Phoenix Stakes (gr.3) after coming up a half length short in his bid. No matter who he faces this guy always guts it out to the end and is a top class adversary wherever he shows up.



   Gayego could take on the role of second favorite with his dominating win in the Ancient Title Stakes (gr.1) over Crown of Thorns. The four year old colt, prominent on last year’s Triple Crown Trail, has only one other stakes win to his credit (Group 3 Mahab Al Shimaal in Dubai) in three tries this year.  He placed second in the Godolphin Mile in March, and then won an optional claimer at Saratoga in August.  In winning the Ancient Title Stakes Gayego guaranteed himself a spot in the Sentient Jet Breeder Cup Sprint field and looks primed for a tremendous effort. He will be a force to reckon with on race day.



Vineyard Haven1

Vineyard Haven

   Other possible starters include Eaton’s Gift, Munnings, True Quality, Vineyard Haven and more.  Munnings is another who is not yet a confirmed starter, but his addition would expand an already sizable pool of class.  He won two consecutive stakes races including the Woody Stephens Stakes earlier in the year before placing third to Rachel Alexandra and Summer Bird on a sloppy Track in the Haskell. He runs well with the best of them, but seems to have tailed off a bit from his earlier exceptional form.  If he does enter I wouldn’t count him out.

   There are many classy horses running here, and many have a legitimate shot at winning. Zensational may be the heavy and obvious favorite off stirring wins over synthetics, but no horse is ever a lock. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I don’t see him getting beat by anyone that shows up.


4 Responses to “The Breeders Cup Sprint: A Kowboy, A Bullet, A Candyman and A Zensation”

  1. Man, I remember backing Gayego as my longshot in the ’08 Preakness. Would love to see him run a big one.

    Gotta give the edge to Zenny out in CA for the sprint, I think.

  2. Brian,

    Left you a note on the BC F&M piece…in case you see this first, Indian Blessing won’t be running. Sorry about that.

    Here’s the link: http://drf.com/news/article/108404.html

    As for the Sprint…looks like you and Kevin have ’em surrounded with Zensational early, Gayego from off the pace. What chance do you give the filly Fleeting Spirit?

    • I actually like Fleeing Spirit a lot, although she’s heading for the Turf Sprint not the regular Sprint, so she won’t be facing Zensational or Gayego. In all fairness though, I tend to choose fillies when they go up against the boys many times, just becuase I think it’s very exciting. She has been really, really consistent since winning the Darley July Cup (Eng-I) at Newmarket in July and I think she’s got just as good a shot of winning as anything we have here. If there is one that I think is a tad better it’s probably California Flag right now.

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