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Breeders’ Cup Press
Breeders’ Cup Sprinters were out today on the track and we had an additional scratch this one coming in the way of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Here are some excerpts of Tuesday’s happenings at Santa Anita Park.
Catalina Cruiser – Hronis Racing’s multiple graded-stakes winner Catalina Cruiser galloped 1m under exercise rider David Pineda and visited the gate Tuesday as he prepares for his expected start in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race widely regarded as the pound-for-pound toughest on the two-day card.
Were it most years, Catalina Cruiser’s resume of seven wins from eight starts would be good enough to vie for favoritism in the 6f Sprint. His lone career defeat came in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and he is unbeaten in three starts this year with his most recent win coming in the 7f Pat O’Brien Stakes on Aug. 24.
The brilliance of Grade 1 winners Mitole and Imperial Hint stand out in a quality-laden division but in looking at the numbers, trainer John Sadler is confident Catalina Cruiser is most capable of having his best day over the sprint distance.
“We think his speed figures are better going short,” Sadler said. “He set a stakes record at Belmont this year (in the True North Stakes) so we think it’s going to be a good set up for him. He’s good on this track obviously and all the races are good. It’s a tough race but he’s a tough horse himself.”
Engage – Woodford Racing’s Steve Asmussen-trained Engage walked the shedrow of Barn 59 on Tuesday morning at Santa Anita Park. The last-out G2 Phoenix Stakes winner worked 3f in 37 3/5 on Monday.
Imperial Hint – Raymond Mamone’s Imperial Hint got acquainted with the Santa Anita Tuesday morning while jogging the wrong way around the racetrack two days after arriving from New Jersey’s Monmouth Park for a start in Saturday’s Sprint.
Trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. was pleased the 6yo son of Imperialism drew post nine for the 10-horse Sprint at Monday’s Breeders’ Cup post position draw.
“I definitely didn’t want to get in the same position that we got in Dubai, where we were on the inside,” said Carvajal, whose trainee finished third in the March 30 Royal Shaheen at Meydan after becoming involved in a contested pace. “I wanted to be on the outside. That way he has a target in front of him and less traffic.”
Imperial Hint will be making his third start in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, in which he finished second, a length behind Roy H., at Del Mar in 2017 and third last year behind repeat winner Roy H. at Churchill Downs.
“When he finished second at Del Mar he got the 10 post, all the way outside, and he ran a really good race,” said Carvajal, who saddled Imperial Hint for victories in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga and the Vosburgh at Belmont in his only two starts since finishing third in Dubai.
Javier Castellano has the return mount aboard Imperial Hint.
Landeskog – Landeskog, runner-up in the Sept. 21 Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx, will scratch from the Sprint, trainer Doug O’Neill confirmed Tuesday morning.
“He’s just telling us he’s not 100 percent so it’s a pretty easy move to make,” O’Neill said. “It’s nothing major. He tracked today but it was just an indication we had that he’s not 100 percent so we’re going to wait. From our standpoint, it’s sad because it’s such a big day or racing. But you don’t run them unless they’re 100 percent.”
Landeskog was coming into the Sprint with a record of two wins from five starts. Ironically, the gelding’s namesake Gabriel Landeskog, captain of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, also is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury.
“I heard the namesake got hurt too,” O’Neill said. “Maybe it’s twin pain or something.”
Mitole – One of the big stars of the upcoming Breeders’ Cup weekend, Williand and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Mitole worked three furlongs at Santa Anita Park on Monday morning at just past 6:45 a.m. Angel Garcia was in the saddle for trainer Steve Asmussen. Assistant trainer Scott Blasi was on hand for the final breeze before a start as the expected favorite in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He was timed in 37 2/5 for 3f.
“He just went an easy three-eighths,” Blasi said. “He did it really well in 37 and two. He had his big work last week, so now we just try to keep him happy.”
Shancelot –– Crawford Farms Racing’s Shancelot has taken it easy the past couple days for trainer Jorge Navarro. The son of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champ Shanghai Bobby left Barn 7 at just past 7 a.m. and jogged two laps of the Santa Anita main track before standing in the gate with his trainer observing.
“We are trying to keep him relaxed,” Navarro said. “So today it was just jogging and standing him in the gate. He’s really ready. There’s lots of talk about Mitole, Mitole, Mitole—but this horse is ready.”
Shancelot wowed speed figure aficionados with his third career start, a track record-setting run in the 6 1/2f Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga on July 28. He has lost his two races since, though only by a head each. He enters off a third in the H. Allen Jerkens on Aug. 14 and a second in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Navarro added: “I was just talking to my wife about how he gets knocked because of the Amsterdam and it being a fluke or one-hit wonder, but did Secretariat ever win by 31 lengths again? The Allen Jerkens wasn’t a speed-favoring track and my jockey wanted to keep his spot on the track. He needed his jockey that day. Then last time out, we went up against Omaha Beach, the Derby favorite who Mike Smith chose over every good 3-year-old out there (in the Kentucky Derby), including Bob Baffert’s. We all forget that. And once again, Shancelot needed his jockey to keep that position, but he let Mike Smith in there (up the inside rail).”