Last year’s Sprint winner Aloha West victorious in the Kelly’s Landing (Coady Photography)
By Margaret Ransom
The list of winners of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), presented by Qatar Racing this year, since its first running in 1984 features some of the greatest—and fastest—horses of a generation. Champion Eillo won the first Breeders’ Cup for Monmouth Park staple, the late Budd Lepman, and since then names like Precisionist, Smile, Gulch, Cherokee Run, Kona Gold, Midnight Lute, the females Very Subtle, Safely Kept and Desert Stormer, record-setter Runhappy fan favorite Whitmore, Mitole and two-time winners Midnight Lute and Roy H, have all worn the blanket of carnations after the Sprint victory.
Aloha West is back seeking a second consecutive victory while champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior, who was sixth a year ago, attempts to turn the tables and pick up a first Breeders’ Cup win having also finished fourth in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over this surface.
Most Breeders’ Cup Sprint winners are also crowned champion of the division so to say making the race is important for the Eclipse Award is an understatement.
The recently retired Corey Nakatani booted home four winners over his illustrious career including three years in a row from 1996 to 1998 – Lit de Justice, 1996; Elmhurst, 1997; 1998, Reraise; and 2006, Thor’s Echo.) Hall of Famer Bob Baffert has saddled five winners to lead all trainers (1992, Thirty Slews; 2007 and 2008, Midnight Lute; 2013, Secret Circle; and 2016, Drefong.)
Midnight Lute in 2008 owns the fastest running, stopping the clock in 1:07.08 over Santa Anita’s synthetic main track. Kona Gold owns the fastest time over a dirt track, completing the distance in 1:07.60 at Churchill Downs in 2000.