Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Breeders' Cup Top 10 - Sprint

Sprint Top 10 - July 28th

1. Fatal Bullet (1)
2. Zensational (2)
3. Benny The Bull (3)
4. Georgie Boy (4)
5. Munnings (7)
6. Big Drama (5)
7. Jungle Wave (new)
8. Red Arrow (6)
9. Fabulous Strike (9)
10. Capt. Candyman Can (10)

Dropped: Devoted Magic (8)

When I first made this list a month ago I listed Fatal Bullet as the #1 and Zensational as the #2. Neither horse had won a stakes race in 2009 but since then both horses have posted Beyer Speed figures on the synthetic that rank among the five best of the season.

Fatal Bullet is a synthetic sprinting machine. His seasonal debut went off without a hitch at Woodbine. Not only did he not look rusty but he looked better than he did last year. He just missed breaking his own track record for 6.5f and earned a career best BSF. Fatal Bullet may not stay in Canada much longer. When you've got a horse this good you've got to chase money and glory in the big events. He may actually end up at Del Mar where he could face Zensational.

Zensational made his stakes debut in a G-1 against his elders. Although the race was at 7f not his preferred 6f he had little trouble dispatching his rivals. He is the fastest horse on the grounds at Del Mar and he won't be seriously challenged unless Fatal Bullet comes in to meet him. A contest between them would be a very intriguing affair since both of them are fast right from the gate and they don't let up. They can do to their rivals on synthetics what Fabulous Strike does on dirt. A fast pace doesn't matter, they can keep going all the way to the line. But what if they have to face a horse with the same running style and capability? Fatal Bullet vs Zensational would be a cracking affair and right now I think Fatal Bullet would have his measure. He is more experienced and I think he is a shade better.

Benny The Bull has retained his third place spot despite the reverse at Calder. I thought he ran well enough for the stage he's at. I expect him to be back to his best next time. There isn't a better closer out there.

Although Devoted Magic still owns the second highest sprinting BSF on synthetics this season he has dropped from my list because he continues to lose to inferior horses. He still has the chance to jump up and run big without much notice but if he keeps on losing allowance races his connections won't even try the Sprint. That's why he has been dropped and replaced by Jungle Wave. Sometimes the best place to look for a good horse is right behind the best horse. Fatal Bullet is the best horse and Jungle Wave finished within two lengths of him in the Bold Venture Stakes last time out. This horse is no slouch. After breaking his maiden in California his connections tried to make him into a Turf miler. He managed to run third in the Oceanside but two turns was just too much for him. He switched barns and was sent to Woodbine where he won three sprints in a row before losing to Fatal Bullet. He has won 4 of 9 starts and has been very good in sprint races. He likes to sit just off the pace then use his quick acceleration to attack the leaders. He has already won at Santa Anita and finishing so well behind Fatal Bullet has to have his connections thinking of how to craft another assault on Arcadia.

The three year old sprinters are definitely above average this year. Not only do we have Zensational, Big Drama and Capt. Candyman Can but Munnings and Custom for Carlos will also be big factors as the year progresses. Munnings was explosive in the Tom Fool and one can see why Fabulous Strike avoided him. Pletcher is now sending Munnings to the Haskell which may ultimately distract his connections from sending this horse to the Sprint. But if he loses, like I think he will, then it should be back to sprinting. Synthetic is not as much of a question as some might think. I thought he handled it fine in the BC Juvenile.

Custom for Carlos is probably a second or third tier kind of horse at the moment. He couldn't handle Big Drama earlier in the year and I think his win in the Jersey Shore was more of a positive form reference for others. He's a good horse but not quite good enough yet.

A horse who may have the stuff to break into the top 10 soon enough is Riley Tucker. He is on a really good run of form lately. Most people will attribute that to going to dirt instead of synthetics but I wonder if Baffert has simply made him a better horse. He runs tomorrow at Saratoga and I expect him to win in fine style. I'd probably like to see him do well against Graded Stakes company again before getting completely on board but he's worth keeping an eye on.

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