Speed will tell the tale at noon on Saturday, November 7, at Keeneland Race Track when the gate opens for the day's first Breeders' Cup Championship Series race with the running of the Filly and Mare Sprint. The Sprint is a one-turn race, which is to say that the horses will break from the gate at the top of the backstretch, seven furlongs from the finish, with only the back turn into the homestretch ahead of them.
Even in a race this relatively short, running against the fastest fillies and mares in the world, this race isn't just about speed. As last year's winner, COVFEFE, demonstrated with style, a horse can hold back until the race is almost over before making a move. In 2019, COVFEFE's jockey, Joel Rosario, tucked the filly into fourth place for five furlongs as the horses bunched coming into the home turn when the favorite rocketed forward to a decisive win.
This year the horse to beat is the flashing filly GAMINE, trained by Bob Baffert. Controversy has followed the pony through a couple of disqualifications regarding trace elements of drugs that are legal but prohibited within a certain number of days before a race. Like stablemate MAXIMUM SECURITY, a Breeders' Cup victory would bring sweet recompense for a quality horse that has unintentionally run afoul of rules and procedures.
Early wagering has installed GAMINE as a surprisingly strong 2-1 favorite. Those best positioned to challenge her, according to handicappers and players, are GUARANA and SERENGETI EMPRESS, both holding 9-2 odds, followed by BELLAFINA at 7-1. However, it was just announced that BELLAFINA has been retired and will not run in the Breeders' Cup.
GUARANA, a four-year-old, boasts five victories in her last six races, including her last two victories on June 4 and July 11 at seven-furlongs with exceptionally good times. Her last win was the GI Madison Stakes at Keeneland, a track she is familiar with by now.
SERENGETI EMPRESS seems to be a horse who is peaking at just the right time. After a fourth-place finish in the Fleur de Lis Stakes on June 27, she roared to victory August 8 in the Ballerina Stakes, a GI race at Saratoga, and was a close second at the Derby City Distaff on September 5.
While the Filly and Mare Sprint is packed with quality horses, it is difficult to pick one that can stay with GAMINE to the wire.
Get the Ultimate Breeders' Cup Wagering Guide at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.