Speed Is of the Essence in Breeders’ Cup Sprint

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, October 23, 2020

Olympic quality human runners can finish a quarter-mile (400 meters) in around 45 seconds. A well-trained Thoroughbred racehorse will have passed a half-mile in the same amount of time—and Thoroughbreds don't stop after a half-mile (four furlongs). Pure speed among Thoroughbreds is running a sub 22-second quarter-mile, sub 44-second half-mile en route to a three-quarter mile (6 furlongs) that's around 1:10, which figures out to an average speed of almost 39 miles-an-hour. Horse races of this length and this speed are called sprints.

Among Thoroughbreds, the ultimate sprint will happen on November 7 at Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, Kentucky, at 2:36 p.m. when the gate opens on the Breeders' Cup Championship Series Sprint. For a little over a minute, the fastest Thoroughbred's in the world will vie for a $2,000,000 purse.

Who's in line for the race? A total of 24 horses have earned eligibility for this race. While it's unlikely that all these horses will run, given the number of entries, the high caliber of these colts, and the brevity of the race, it's also unlikely that a prohibitive favorite will emerge. Still, several top horses have drawn a lot of early interest.

One horse to keep a close eye on is VEKOMA, a four-year-old with six wins in eight lifetime starts and career earnings of $1,245,525. Ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by George Weaver, VEKOMA may be the horse to beat. If so, his main challenger may be SHANCELOT, who finished second in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint and has not raced in 2020 due to injury. Now trained by the highly regarded Steve Asmussen, here is a pony looking for revenge.

Often mentioned among the top horses in the race is a come-back kid named C Z ROCKET. Ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Peter Miller, the colt has nine wins in 22 starts. In mid-career, after some disappointing losses, the horse was claimed and began his return to glory. He's won his last five races in a row, concluding with Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint on September 27.

Also mentioned as potential victors are COLLUSION ILLUSION ridden by Flavien Pratt and trained by Mark Glatt, with five wins out of seven starts; WHITMORE, with 14 wins out of 37 starts, trained by Ron Moquett and ridden by Joseph Talamo; and WIN WIN WIN, who did just that on August 29 by picking up a Grade I victory in the Saratoga Forego Stakes.


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