Typically one of the most competitive races at the annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships is the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), a six-furlong test of speed and talent.
The 2019 Sprint should be no exception. There’s no shortage of top-class sprinters currently targeting the Nov. 2 race at Santa Anita Park, including runners with previous experience in the Breeders’ Cup.
Who are some of the big names to keep an eye on? Check out my Breeders’ Cup Sprint Top 5 to get up to speed on the major contenders.
The two-time defending Sprint champion kicked off 2019 with an easy four-length score in the Palos Verdes Stakes (G2), but missed a planned start in the March 30 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) with a hoof issue. That turned out to be a significant setback, and Roy H hasn’t posted a time workout since, but his connections hope to bring him back in the fall. Unlike a few other runners in the top 5, Roy H is a true six-furlong specialist, and he has won his last six starts at Santa Anita.
Mitole is unquestionably the “now” horse, with seven consecutive victories and six straight triple-digit Beyer speed figures under his belt. He’s shown a lot of talent sprinting six furlongs, but his recent victories in the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) and Metropolitan Handicap (G1) have come over seven and eight furlongs, respectively. It remains to be seen whether Mitole has the pure speed to compete with top-class six-furlong sprinters, but this versatile 4-year-old is improving with every start and might be ready for any challenge come November.
World of Trouble
From five starts on turf, World of Trouble has accumulated four stakes wins, plus a narrow runner-up effort in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1). In all likelihood this speedy son of Kantharos will aim to go one better in the 2019 Turf Sprint. But his connections can’t be blamed if they decide to target the richer Sprint, because World of Trouble’s dirt form is also excellent, highlighted by a victory in the seven-furlong Carter Handicap (G1) at Aqueduct.
X Y Jet
X Y Jet has battled soundness issues throughout his career, but when he’s right, he’s fast and tough to beat. He used his excellent early speed to win the March 30 Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in gate-to-wire fashion, defeating a quality field that included grade 1 winners Imperial Hint and Promises Fulfilled. X Y Jet is currently getting time off, and this could be a great move if his connections intend to target the Breeders’ Cup. Ill-timed setbacks and injuries have thus far prevented X Y Jet from participating in the Breeders’ Cup, so a summer break could be just what X Y Jet needs to reach his peak this fall.
This adaptable son of Union Rags boasts a stamina-oriented pedigree and won the San Diego Handicap (G2) going 1 1/16 miles last year, so it’s possible he’ll race successfully around two turns this summer and his connections will never give the Sprint a second glance. But Catalina Cruiser has also been effective sprinting, most recently when he returned from a seven-month layoff to win the 6 1/2-furlong True North Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park with a 103 Beyer. Also, Catalina Cruiser is 2-for-2 sprinting six furlongs at Santa Anita.