Bits and Pieces: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint

October 31, 2022

Twilight Gleaming (Chelsea Durand)

By Margaret Ransom

This year marks the fifth running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1T) for 2-year-olds of either sex which will be contested this year at 5 ½ furlongs over Keeneland’s turf course. The distance depends on the host track’s capability to run the distance and in some cases it is shortened to five furlongs to accommodate the turf sprinting limitations, just as it was at Churchill Downs in 2018 and last year at Del Mar. It returns to Keeneland and 5 1/2 furlongs again this year.

This race was run initially in 2018 during the first day of the Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs and was ungraded. In 2020 and 2021 it carried a grade 2, but was elevated to grade 1 status for the first time this year. The purse will again be worth $1 million.

In 2018, WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing’s Bulletin was a 2 ¾-length winner under the Twin Spires for trainer Todd Pletcher and after one win from five starts in 2019, he returned in 2020 in the care of Steve Asmussen and didn’t hit the board in two starts for the Hall of Famer. He subsequently was exported to Australia, where he as raced eleven times without much success, his most recent start producing a sixth-place finish in a small handicap at Gayndah Racecourse for his new connections on October 8.

The 2019 winner, Four Wheel Drive, went on the shelf after the Breeders’ Cup and returned with a dismal seventh-place finish in allowance company and was retired to stand at stud in Japan. Golden Pal is by far and away the most successful – and notable — winner of this race having won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1), among a handful of other graded stakes. The Wesley Ward-trained son of Uncle Mo will be one of the American favorites – and a significant threat to repeat in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on Saturday.

Irad Ortiz Jr. and Ward have teamed up to win the last three runnings of this race with Four Wheel Drive in 2019, Golden Pal in 2020 and Twilight Gleaming a year ago.

Jonathan Stettin is a New York Legend. He's been a Horseplayer, earning his living at the track, since he was 19 years old. @jonathanstettin

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