No flowery segways - No quotes from Emerson - No creative summer breezes gently carrying the reader down memory lane leading them towards the topic of the day – This subject screams, “Get to the point!”
Sprinters – n. A type of Thoroughbred horse that is incompetent of handling races that are over a mile.
Sprint Races – n. 1 . Thoroughbred horses competing in races run at one mile or less. 2. Races that are used as a filler until the real race of more than a mile is run.
Have I lost my mind? Have I gone mad?
The answer is absolutely not! Not yet anyways. Although my definitions are a bit theatrical, there seems to be a general consensus that sprinters should not garner the esteem that distances horses receive.
I respectfully disagree on a simple truth that, “A great racehorse is a great racehorse.” If horse racing is to be acknowledged as a true sport, than we must respect all its athletes in every discipline. It does appear that short horses do not get their dues properly paid.
Known as the mighty “Black Whirlwind”, Domino was perhaps the most significant horse, both on the racetrack, and in the breeding shed, during the late 1800’s, and early 1900’s. This legendary Thoroughbred maintained a ten race winning streak from his first start as a juvenile, until he was midway through his three year old year. The great Henry of Navarre fell to his mercy twice, only having defeated him at four years old when unsoundness struck Domino. The Black Whirlwind won eighteen out of nineteen starts at a mile or less, but only one of which was a dead heat at 1 1/8 miles or more. How would Domino be judged by our modern day critics?
In the 2008 Olympic Games, Usain Bolt, became the first man since 1984 to win three Track and Field sprinting events, and the first man to set world records in all three events at one Olympic. In 2009, he won a race by over 100 meters, which is the largest margin since the inception of digital measurements to Track and Field. Should we consider Usain Bolt any less great because he runs exclusively at sprints?
Usain Bolt was awarded his second straight Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2009. It begs the question: when was the last time a sprinter was awarded Horse of the Year? Forty years ago, Ack Ack was presented Horse of the Year along with Champion Sprinter. He was given this prestigious award for the talent he showed throughout 1971, winning all but one start. Ack Ack swept races ranging from 5 ½ furlongs to the Classic distance of 1 ¼ miles. To this day, there has never been a horse that has won Horse of the Year off a campaign strictly run at a mile or less.
Specifically, the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is a race I look forward to watching. It is filling up with horses that are extremely talented and should not be dismissed as a “no big deal” race. It will be a great accomplishment for any of them to hold the title as winner of this race.
This bay son of Posse should be considered one of the top late-blooming three year olds. Caleb’s Posse is coming off two straight wins at Saratoga in the Amsterdam which he won by four lengths drawing away. Most recently, he nosed out champion juvenile, Uncle Mo, for the victory in the King’s Bishop.
Caleb’s Posse’s running style is rather unusual for a horse in shorter races. He relaxes as he trails the field through the early stages of the race, and gets up in plenty of time due to his devastating turn of foot. Caleb’s Posse conserves his energy for when he must pass the tiring horses that have endured a blistering pace. He will challenge 2011 Preakness winner, Shackelford, in the Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on October 1. This colt is a rising force, and must be considered as a leading contender when handicapping the Dirt Mile.
Jackson Bend seems as if he has found his best success at seven furlongs, being unbeaten in his two starts at that distance. He could easily opt to compete in either the Dirt Mile or Breeders’ Cup Sprint because the seven furlong distance sits between the six furlong Sprint, and the Mile. In the Forego, his most recent victory, Jackson Bend came from behind to win by 3 ¼ lengths. I suspect that the Dirt Mile may be the race better suited for Jackson Bend due to his strong finishing kick. This can be supported by the fact that he passed the leader by the time he had run six furlongs in the Forego.
Making his next start in the Indiana Derby, Shackelford is likely to compete in the Dirt Mile instead of the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I believe the Dirt Mile is the better race for the 2011 Preakness winner, Shackelford, because he seems to run at his best at a mile. In the Florida Derby in which Shackelford was beaten a head, he ran a mile in 1:36.38 – just over one second slower than Dakota Phone’s winning time of 1:35.29 in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Since his eighth place finish in the Travers Stakes, Shackelford has been given a layoff at WinStar Farm, which I suspect will refresh his running abilities after a strenuous eight race 2011 campaign. His level of talent at the one mile distance gives him a great opportunity to run huge in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
There are two opportunities for The Factor, who has shown talent in his three year old career. Following his most recent victory in the Pat O’Brien, his trainer, Bob Baffert said that either the Mile or the Sprint is an option for The Factor, who he will keep restricted to one turn races. Regardless of what race his connections choose to enter him in, The Factor will certainly be a leading contender who will likely set a hot pace.
Winning in gate to wire fashion, The Factor has proven that he can hold up well against a challenger in the early fractions of a race. The Factor, a grey son of War Front, dominated the three year old races at Oaklawn Park earlier this year before fracturing his ankle. He was put on the shelf, consequently being knocked out of contention for any of the Triple Crown races. His comeback race was the Pat O’Brien, in which he embarrassed older horses with his best performance yet.