Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Oct. 24-25
$1.195 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint
Three-Year-Olds & Up
About 6 ˝ Furlongs (Turf)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
California Flag (Tr: Brian Koriner; ex. rider: Colleen Hartford) – It was twice around the oval at a mere jog Thursday morning for California Flag, the gray gelding who can boast of owning the course record on Santa Anita’s unique Hillside Turf Course coming into Saturday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
“I’ll school him the paddock with the horses for today’s seventh race, then jog him one time around tomorrow morning,” trainer Brian Koriner said back at Barn 17. “He’s coming up to this as good as I could hope and we’ll see what happens.”
The homebred son of Avenue of Flags will carry the colors of 81-year-old Keith Card’s Hi Card Ranch on Saturday, just as he did in winning the Morvich Handicap by three lengths on Sept. 24 coming down the hill in 1:11, the fastest time ever run on the twisting layout.
Joseph Talamo, who has been aboard for eight of the California-bred’s 11 starts, including all four of his tallies, once again has the call on Saturday. They’ll break from post 10 in the 14-horse field and carry a morning line of 15-1.
Fleeting Spirit (Tr: Jeremy Noseda) – Trainer Jeremy Noseda said Thursday that he expects his 3yo filly Fleeting Spirit will have to be making a late run Saturday in the 6˝ f race.
“I think in the pace that they’re going to go in here, I think she might be coming from far back, but that would suit her,” Noseda said. “She’s got a good turn of foot. I think the race will set up well, but she’s going to need a lot of luck in running and she’s going to need some splits to happen for her in the crucial stages. The way the race sets up is good, but we’re just going to need some luck on the day.”
Noseda, who spent time training in California, emphasized that luck is an important element in a turf sprint at Santa Anita.
“I think the hillside course actually makes it maybe even more of an issue,” he said. “It’s a great track to race on. I think it’s a great track for people to watch a race on, but in this race, a competitive sprint, it’s going to require a lot of luck in running. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that someone upstairs is looking down on us at the quarter-pole.”
Fleeting Spirit has won four of eight career starts. She will be ridden by John Murtagh.
Get Funky (Tr: John Sadler) – Keith Abrahams’ Get Funky galloped 1 1/4m under exercise rider Ricardo Peniche on Thursday morning for trainer John Sadler.
Jose Valdivia Jr., who has ridden Get Funky 10 times with two of those coming down the Hillside Turf Course that the Turf Sprint will be run over, has the mount Saturday and will break from post position 13 in the field of 14.
Sadler, who called the post position the best of the seven for his horses in the two-day World Championships, has the battle plan for Get Funky on Saturday.
“From the post, he will be in a stalking position coming down the hill,” Sadler said.
Idiot Proof (Tr: Clifford Sise Jr.) – A happy Clifford Sise Jr. said the speedy Cal-bred son of Benchmark “looked very, very good” as Idiot Proof jogged 1m on the main track in his first day back on the main track after working over the Hillside Turf Course Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s Turf Sprint.
“I’m very hopeful that he’ll run well Saturday,” Sise said, adding that the 4yo colt, who will start from post 11 with Garrett Gomez aboard and “is ready and willing to give a good effort.”
Mr. Nightlinger (Tr: Bret Calhoun) – When trainer Bret Calhoun first received the news that his Mr. Nightlinger had drawn post 14 for Saturday’s Turf Sprint, he didn’t know how to react.
“But after talking to some people, we’re actually pretty happy about it,” Calhoun said. “With the way the (downhill) course is set up, we go short right first, which should allow us a chance to avoid a traffic jam and get to a forward position. When we turn back left, hopefully we’re the one they have to come and get.”
None of Mr. Nightlinger’s turf sprint victories has come over a distance further than 5 ˝ f, but Calhoun is not concerned at all with Saturday’s 6 ˝ f trip.
“We really think he can go a mile, but with the success he’s had sprinting, and the Breeders’ Cup in the plans, there was no reason to play around,” Calhoun explained. “Next year will be a fresh start, so you never know. At the right time, we might try a mile.”
One Union (Tr: Richard Mandella) – Herman Sarkowsky’s 5yo son of Dixie Union galloped 1m on the main track at Santa Anita Thursday for trainer Richard Mandella as preparation went forward for Saturday’s Turf Sprint.
One Union will start from post position 12, which Mandella says is a good spot on the downhill course that bends first to the right and then to the left before coming across the main track to enter the stretch run on the turf.
The Kentucky-bred will have regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard.
Salute the Count (Tr: Rick Dutrow Jr.; ex. rider: Michelle Nevin) – With exercise rider Michelle Nevin aboard, Turf Sprint contender Salute the Count worked 3f in 34 1/5 over Santa Anita’s main track on Thursday morning. The 8yo gelding had missed a scheduled Monday work at Aqueduct with a slight leg filling.
“He’s doing really good, we’re very happy with him,” trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. said.
At the age of eight, Salute the Count is the senior member of the field. Only two of the other 13 competitors have aged to six.
“There are younger and faster horses in the race,” Dutrow said. “Everything has to go his way. He could run the race of his life, and still finish fifth or sixth. It’s going to be fun for the owners (Michael Dubb and Robert Joscelyn). We’re confident that he’ll give it his all, and run as fast as he can.”
Storm Treasure (Tr: Steve Asmussen) – Mike McCarty’s Storm Treasure walked the shedrow Thursday morning as he put in his final workout at Santa Anita on Wednesday (4f in 49 3/5) for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Exercise rider Carlos Rosas was aboard for the move yesterday and said of the 5yo horse, “He worked really easily. In his last race, he ran huge (fifth in the Nearctic at Woodbine, but beaten only 1 ˝ lengths for it all). This is a tough race, but you never know. Coming down the hill and the extra half-furlong should be good for him.”