Golden Pal wins the Woodford (Coady Photography)
By Margaret Ransom
The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1T) was run for the first time in 2008 at about 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita’s signature downhill turf course. Now a grade 1, it was contested as an ungraded event until 2010 when it earned a grade 2. It was elevated to its current grade 1 status in 2012.
Because not all North American tracks are capable of running a 6 ½-furlong sprint over their turf course, this race has been held at varying distances over the past 12 years. At Churchill Downs (2010, 2011, 2018) the distance was five furlongs. At Keeneland in 2015 and 2020, the distance was about five furlongs, and will be again this year, and at Del Mar in 2017 and 2021 the race was contested at five furlongs. In 2019, though held at Santa Anita, the race was conducted at five furlongs again since the downhill turf course had been closed earlier in the year.
Because this division competes with the traditional sprinter division for Eclipse Awards, no winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint has earned the title as champion sprinter. However, in 2018 after his second victory in the race, Stormy Liberal was voted champion turf horse. He isn’t the only runner to have won two editions as the mare Mizdirection took home the victory in both 2012 and 2013 and this year, Golden Pal’s connections seek a second here and a third win on the World Championships overall.
California-based conditioner Peter Miller is the race’s leading trainer with three winners. In addition to Stormy Liberal, he also conditioned the filly Belvoir Bay to victory three years ago. Interesting to note is that the British-bred filly survived the 2017 Lilac Fire in San Diego county before becoming a Breeders’ Cup winner.
In 2020, Bearstone Stud Limited’s English import Glass Slippers posted the mild upset at 10-1 under jockey Tom Eaves. And a year ago, the aforementioned Golden Pal was victorious where the turf meets the surf.
Glass Slippers owns the stakes record of 1:01.53 at the 5 ½-furlong distance.
Mike Smith (2012, 2013) and Joel Rosario (2014, 2017) have each ridden a pair of winners to lead all jockeys.