Sprint Looks Like Inside Job

By Alan Mann, Left at the Gate

At least the field sizes are fairly manageable on Saturday; just nine go in the Sprint. I'm not proud, I'll take any break I can get. In post position order, with the top contenders all lined up inside:

Cost of Freedom has run huge in two races since being claimed by trainer John Sadler. You could have doubted his allowance win off the claim against a mediocre field. But I guess not many did, because he was 5-1 in the G1 Ancient Title. This five-year old son of Cee's Tizzy was four wide throughout the final turn, and was moving pretty easily with Tyler Baze as he circled the field on his way to holding off the mighty Street Boss. He's working very well, and the Form's clocker Mike Welsch wrote that he seems to be maintaining his vastly improved form. He has plenty enough tactical speed to avoid getting buried from the rail post.

Street Boss has developed into one of the sport's most consistent and exciting runners this year with his patented wide late rally, though he's toiled in the relative anonymity of the Southern California sprint division . He'd won five in a row before losing to Cost of Freedom, which probably would not have happened had he not blown the turn. While the relatively short field means that the pace may not be as frenzied as he'd prefer, it lessens the chance he'll have traffic trouble or have to go unmanageably wide. This son of Street Cry earned his career best Beyer in losing the Ancient Title; and note that he improved eight Beyer points in the Crosby, which was his second race off a two month freshening like the one he enjoyed before the Ancient Title.

Fabulous Strike caught a break when J Be K scratched and another when he drew inside of Black Seventeen. Speedy five year old son of Smart Strike has only raced twice this year, and has yet to achieve the astronomical Beyers he did the two years prior. He was pressed hard while on the rail in the slop of the Vosburgh, and tired to a final furlong in 13.23. He's had just one work since then, in which he also tired, at least according to Welsch. So I'm wondering if that race took something out of him. Still, he has the best Moss pace figures in the field, and they may have him to catch in his first effort on a synthetic track.

Midnight Lute is certainly a ponderous entry here. We all recall his amazing rally to win last year's Sprint in the slop at Monmouth; as well as the 124 Speed Figure he earned in the Forego. But physical problems have limited the son of Real Quiet to a single start, and that was more of a non-performance in which he was well back throughout. He suffered a quarter crack for which he was still being treated over the weekend. But I’m told by a reader that his 10/13 workout, five furlongs in 56 4/5, was touted by one veteran clocker as being in the all-time top five from his 25 years in the business. And Welsch reported on Monday that he looked none the worse for wear. Still, you gotta take a stand sometimes, and I'm taking one against him here.

I think the winner is likely to come from this group (actually, as it turns out, from the inside pair), so running down the rest: First Defence is a possibility I suppose off his win in the Forego. That race pretty much fell apart though, and it was at a seven furlong distance he prefers on a racetrack he relishes. First try on synthetic here too. Black Seventeen surprised at 23-1 in the Vosburgh, which I'm going to attribute to the slop that day. He does have good early speed according to his Moss numbers though, and I'm expecting (hoping...) that he'll give Fabulous Strike some trouble early; I don't know who else can, really. In Summation has not been quite the same since returning from a winter/spring vacation. He only finished a length behind Street Boss in the Crosby, so he's not impossible. But I think he'll need everything to go his way.

Sing Baby Sing is as consistent as they come, but seems a cut below on class and speed. Fatal Bullet has a horridly awful name - just dreadful. I hope he loses. He's been almost unbeatable on three different synthetic surfaces and comes off a career best Beyer of 108; but his Moss numbers don't match up with either of the two horses I’ve identified above as the speed. Figures to be caught wide if he’s trying to stalk, and here’s hoping he fades in the stretch.

Picks: Street Boss, Cost of Freedom, In Summation

No change in my thoughts on the Dirt Mile after the post position draw, nor due to the presence of Mast Track and Pyro. Mast Track will be running with what Frankel describes as a “tiny” quarter crack. Tell me, what again is the symbol in the program or Form for that? You know, to keep the betting public fully informed. QC? A little image of Big Brown? A picture of Frankel’s face with a Liberty Bell crack down the center? Surely there must be something, right?

A couple of horses of interest to me in other races drew poorly: Whatsthescript, yet another Cal-based horse which has moved way up off a trainer change (and, like Cost of Freedom, now with Sadler), drew the outside 11 post in the Mile. And Pure Clan, a three-year old IEAH filly with a world of upside in my opinion, will break from the ten hole in the F&M Turf.


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