The Breeders Cup Turf Sprint is a Grade Two race held annually as part of the Breeders Cup meeting in North America.
Essentially, the meeting is regarded as the end of year championships for North American horse racing – and this particular division showcases some of the fastest horses on a grass surface over the minimum distance of five furlongs.
Depending on the venue of the meeting however, which changes every year, the race can be run over a distance of up to six and a half furlongs, although Breeders Cup authorities state that five furlongs is always the preferred trip.
Horses aged three years-old upwards are eligible to enter the contest, which also welcomes entries from the rest of the world.
Inaugurated in 2008 when Desert Code triumphed for trainer David Hofmans, the race was initially an ungraded event, due to the technicalities of rules set out by the American Graded Stakes Committee which state that any new race must be run under the same conditions for two consecutive years before it can assume higher classification.
The race was subsequently uplifted to a Grade Two contest in 2009, although the prize purse of $1 million remained unchanged.
The Breeders Cup Turf Sprint, like every other race on the two day card, is included within the Breeders Cup Challenge, a process whereby horses can obtain automatic berths for the final line-up by competing in a series of other significant races throughout the season.
The winners of the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville, Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley, Morvich Handicap at both Santa Anita and Longchamp, Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine and Arlington’s Sprint Handicap all qualify for the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint and subsequently provide a strong form guide for the culminating race.
Experience appears to be the key judging by the few renewals to date, indeed, 2010 successor Chamberlain Bridge entered the Breeders Cup winner’s enclosure as a six year-old.
Course and distance form will give certain horses a significant edge over the rest of the field – and this is likely to have occurred for many of the older horses in the race.
So far, it is American horses who have dominated the race, despite the fact that turf racing trails in a clear second behind dirt racing most of the time in the US.
US horses can be extremely versatile however as they can rely on their sheer engine to get them home. Raw speed and power is a feature of most American sprinters and sprinting as a whole in the States.
Crossing over form between countries ahead of the race requires a lot of time – and the race could even be decided simply by which horse breaks best out of the gates.
The best advice is probably to follow the market, follow the trainer comments and have a fairly solid idea about which horses are likely to suit the track and are able to record a time worthy of winning the race.