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2016 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint: Can Lord Nelson Make it Five In A Row?

By Sigi Mendoza and Kari Ward

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championship races are set to take place this weekend Friday, November 4th and Saturday, November 5th at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA. The Breeders’ Cup once again has lined up quite a stunning card for both days. Lady and the Track’s Sigifredo Mendoza and Kari Ward decided to take a look at the 33rd running of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI), which will again be contested at six furlongs on the dirt for horses three years old and up for a purse of $1.5 million.

Lord Nelson Horse

Spendthrift Farm’s Lord Nelson puts his perfect 2016 record on the line in Saturday’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI).
Photo: Benoit

Beginning in 2007, the Breeders’ Cup started the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, which is a series of races awarding the winner an automatic spot in the gate for his/her division. Each division has anywhere from two to 12 of these designated qualifying races, known as “Win and You’re In” event. A horse can win more than one of the challenge series as well.

In the Breeders’ Cup Sprint division the maximum field size is 14 runners with 6 automatic berths awarded to Breeders’ Cup Challenge race winners: The Smile Sprint Handicap (GIII), won by Delta Bluesman; the Bing Crosby Handicap (GI), captured by Lord Nelson; the Forego Stakes (GI) won by A.P. Indian; the Vosburgh Stakes (GI), secured by Joking; The Phoenix Stakes (GII), attained by A.P. Indian; and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (GI), also won by Lord Nelson.

Last year Runhappy, a son of Kentucky Derby (GI) winner Super Saver won the race in track record time of 1:08.58 en route to champion sprinter honors. This year, however, his connections elected to try him in the Dirt Mile (GI) instead.

This year’s Twinspires Breeders’ Cup Sprint is carded as the 6th race of the day with a start time of 1:21 p.m., PST.

We have a compact field of nine warriors set to run and any horse could winm if they have on their best game face.

Kari’s Thoughts:

I’m going with Lord Nelson for the win. I’ve loved this guy from back in the day when he routed. It’s great to see him find his best stride sprinting. He loves this course and he loves this distance of six furlongs as he’s hit that mark three times at Santa Anita. He comes in with an impressive four-race win-streak, so game on. The 4-year-old son of Pulpit won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship by 2 ½ lengths last out and he’s been working like beast in the mornings and is ready to fire.

From my past experience in playing Bob Baffert, never leave out his “other” runner. That bites me every time. So I’m also going to include Drefong on my ticket. This son of Gio Ponti is the youngster of the group at age three, which is always tough when taking on elders in a huge stakes race like this. He comes in with five races behind him and four wins and last out, he won the Kings Bishop Stakes (GI) in August after shipping across the country to Saratoga. He’s coming in off a layoff (just like Baffert’s Classic-bound runner, Arrogate) and Baffert usually has his horses ready to fire off the bench. He is the speed of the speed and there is a lot signed up in this race. He’ll be the one that needs to be reeled in. He is vastly improving and is scary.

My longshot will be the Canadian runner Noholdingback Bear for trainer Michael De Paulo. Last out he won the Gallant Bob (GIII) Stakes at Parx after finishing up a nice third to Drefong at odds of 25-1 in King’s Bishop. He’s run two competitive races in the United States and I’m not leaving him off my ticket. He is the improving sort, has a nice workout pattern and carries my lucky number eight.

With the speed of Drefong, Delta Bluesman & Masochistic, the race looks pretty ripe for a pace collapse. A.P. Indian, Noholdingback Bear and Limousine Liberal have all won gate to wire as well. It could set up nice for someone sitting back and patiently waiting. I have absolutely nothing against Masochistic, he is the speed of the speed and I have to draw the line somewhere, so I’m playing against him. If he gets hooked out front with Drefong, it’s over. It will be interesting to see who goes off as the favored in here, Lord Nelson or Masochistic.

Sigi’s Thoughts:

Lord Nelson is the logical choice in this race, since he has a good record in Santa Anita and is also unbeaten in four starts in six-furlong races. Although this time he is facing a tough field, he is playing at home and on a track he likes. Evidently that is a huge advantage. There’s a lot of early speed in the race, a thing he should appreciate.

Noholdingback Bear impressed me in the Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx Racing. The way he sat off the leaders suits perfectly for this race, especially if the tempo is hot as expected. The horse has recorded very fast workouts according to the reports, and looks ready to give his best in the BC Sprint.

Mind Your Biscuits finished strong in the Gallant Bob Stakes and is another horse who can take advantage of a pace duel and win at huge odds.

2016 Twinspires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) Post Positions & Morning Line Odds:

  1. Mind Your Biscuits 20/1 J.Rosario/R.Falcone Jr.
  2. Drefong 7/2 M.Garcia/B.Baffert
  3. Delta Bluesman 15/1 E.Jaramillo/J.Navarro
  4. Joking 15/1 M.Franco/C.Baker*
  5. A.P. Indian 4/1 J.Bravo/A.Delacour
  6. Lord Nelson 5/2 F.Pratt/B.Baffert
  7. Masochistic 2/1 M.Smith/R.Ellis
  8. Noholdingback Bear 15/1 E.R. Da Silva/J.P. De Paulo
  9. Limousine Liberal 15/1 J.Ortiz/B.Colebrook

*Joking has been withdrawn