Battaash, Blue Point Face Off in Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes
The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I) has been run on ten occasions, and thus far, no horse based in Europe has prevailed in the rich turf sprint.Whether that changes in November at Churchill Downs remains to be seen, but on Friday we’ll get a chance to see some of Europe’s top contenders in action when hosts the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes (Eng-I), a five-furlong sprint that offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Sixteen horses are set to face the starter, though two of them—Battaash and Blue Point—figure to dominate the wagering. Both are highly accomplished over this distance; Battaash won the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp Longines (Fr-I) last October and proved a decisive winner of the King George Qatar Stakes (Eng-II) three weeks ago, while Blue Point edged Battaash by 1 ¾ lengths in the prestigious King’s Stand Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot earlier this summer.
Of the pair Battaash is expected to start as the clear favorite thanks to his overall record of 7 wins from 13 starts paired with his lofty Racing Post Ratings (he was assigned a 129 for his victory in the King George Qatar Stakes), but there are other capable runners in this field as well. Consider Mabs Cross, who finished just a neck behind Battaash in the King’s Stand Stakes. Or Caspian Prince, a nine-year-old veteran who has been quite competive at the Group 2 level, most notably winning the Sapphire Stakes (Eng-II) against a quality field last summer.
Trainer will be well represented here with four starters, including the capable Washington DC, a multiple Group 1-placed competitor who has finished off the board in the last two renewals of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Sioux Nation, winner of the Phoenix Stakes (Ire-I) as a two-year-old, will be seeking to regain his top form, while Battle of Jericho (who defeated Caspian Prince in a handicap race two months ago) and Declarationofpeace (winner of the Qatar Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes at Del Mar last November) round out the O’Brien contingent.
Take Cover might be eleven years old, but he remains in good form despite his age, winning four races last season and most recently finishing second behind Battaash in the King George Qatar Stakes. Muthmir, third in that same race, likewise has form lines that could make him competitive, and the same goes for Judicial—winner of the Coral Charge Stakes (Eng-III) at Sandown last month—and Havana Grey, who was Group 1-placed as a two-year-old.
Completing the field are Mr. Lupton and Alpha Delphini, who ran 1-2 in a listed stakes race over this course and distance last month, and the group stakes winners Abel Handy and Heartache. The Nunthorpe is the fourth race on York’s Friday card, with a post time of 9:35 a.m. Eastern.