DEL MAR, Calif—Few Breeders’ Cup runners will be singled on tickets like Gamine, the fleet filly that won the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) at Keeneland. On November 6, Gamine will be heavily favored to defend her title in the $1 million race at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, but can any one of her rivals outrun her?
Gamine has been one of the most brilliant, consistent runners over the last two racing seasons. Michael Lund Petersen went to $1.8 million for the daughter of Into Mischief when she was a juvenile in training, and she promptly rewarded him with a smashing debut win at Santa Anita on March 7, 2020.
From there, the Bob Baffert-trained Gamine reeled off an allowance win at Oaklawn Park, a staggering 18 ¾-length score in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont, and a seven-length thrashing of the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga. She hung on gamely to be third in the Kentucky Oaks over nine furlongs (but was ultimately disqualified due to a medication violation) and that was the end of her time routing.
Dropped back in distance in last year’s Breeders’ Cup, Gamine ran the competition off their feet. She took on 2019 Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress and crack sprinters such as Bell’s the One and Sconsin and trounced them, winning by over six lengths.
Gamine has not been beaten since, taking the Grade 3 Las Flores, the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff, the Grade 2 Great Lady M., and the Grade 1 Ballerina in succession. She has been so dominant that only six rivals even pre-entered against her.
But can any of those Breeders’ Cup contenders win? Based on Beyer Speed Figures, Bella Sofia is just as fast. The daughter of Awesome Patriot has won three in a row and four out of five, including the 2021 edition of the Test, and defeated elders in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez has had the filly resting since September 26, and she is capable of sitting just off the pace set by Gamine or pressuring her early.
In a pace meltdown, Ce Ce might be the play. Michael McCarthy trains the daughter of Elusive Quality, who was a dual Grade 1 winner in 2020 but hadn’t shown her same charisma early in 2021. She is now experiencing a revival as a sprinter, taking the Grade 3 Chillingworth at Santa Anita last out by five lengths. Before that, she won the Grade 2 Princess Rooney at Gulfstream Park by over three lengths at the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint’s seven-furlong distance. But in between, Ce Ce lost to Gamine at Saratoga.
Edgeway has something Gamine doesn’t: a start—and win—over the Del Mar track. Winner of the Grade 3 Rancho Bernardo in August, Edgeway has won three of her last four starts. The dark bay filly finished second in her first graded stakes race in 2020 before she went to the sidelines for seven months, but she came back stronger than ever. John Sadler trains for Hronis Racing.
Proud Emma is a local runner out of Southern California who has never faced Gamine but has lost to Ce Ce and Edgeway in her last two starts. Peter Miller trains the daughter of Include, who is usually ridden by jockey Mike Smith.
The Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint did not debut until 2007, making it one of the newer Breeders’ Cup races. In that time, the only horse to win the race twice has been Groupie Doll, but there have been popular winners such as Covfefe and shockers such as 66-1 Bar of Gold the last time the race was held at Del Mar. On that day, the very heavy favorite Unique Bella could do no better than seventh.
Will Gamine win in brilliant fashion once again? This race has produced the likes of Shamrock Rose ($53.80 to win) and Musical Romance ($42.40). Don’t count out an upset when making your Breeders’ Cup picks.
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Article courtesy of TVG and Breeders’ Cup
Gamine wired the G2 Great Lady M at Los Alamitos under John Velazquez on July 5, 2021. She’s undefeated this season. Photo of Gamine courtesy of EclipseSportswire