10/24/2012 4:12PM

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint: East-West clash may be on tap

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Beholder also is nominated to the Juvenile Fillies, but the Juvenile Sprint is her first preference.

An East-West battle between a pair of fleet fillies looms an intriguing possibility in the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at six furlongs.

Beholder, trained in Southern California by Richard Mandella, placed in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante behind the undefeated Executiveprivilege over seven furlongs Sept. 1. Dropped into an allowance race and racing on dirt for the first time, Beholder bewildered a field of five juvenile fillies. She scorched the ground on the front end, en route to an 11-length victory and a 108 Beyer Speed Figure. Beholder also is nominated to the Juvenile Fillies, but the Juvenile Sprint is her first preference.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Pre-entered fields with odds and comments]

Kauai Katie’s first preference is the richer and more prestigious Juvenile Fillies, but her pedigree and running style indicate she may be more effective at sprint distances for the time being. By Malibu Moon, Kauai Katie won her career debut by 12 lengths going 5 1/2 furlongs at Saratoga. She earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure that day and has since taken a pair of Grade 2 sprints by utilizing front-running tactics.

Merit Man, the undefeated winner of the $100,000 Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 6, deserves a good amount of consideration in the Juvenile Sprint. A debut winner over Polytrack during the Del Mar meeting, Merit Man showed improved early speed in the Tim Conway, finishing 5 1/2 lengths to the good of South Floyd, a Doug O’Neill maiden winner who also is pre-entered for the Juvenile Sprint.

Bob Baffert is represented in the pre-entries by Super Ninety Nine, a debut winner going seven furlongs at Santa Anita on Oct. 7. Super Ninety Nine sold for the third-highest price ($260,000) at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s June auction and is a Pulpit half-brother to five-time stakes winner Elusive Horizon. Baffert won the inaugural Juvenile Sprint last year with Secret Circle.

European invader Shumoos rallied for second in last year’s Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs, and Ceiling Kitty may invade from Great Britain in 2012. A bay filly by the crack turf sprinter Red Clubs, Ceiling Kitty won the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes at five furlongs during the Royal Ascot meeting. Ceiling Kitty, like Shumoos, has winning experience on a synthetic surface overseas, but her pedigree may be best suited to grass.

Trainer Wesley Ward, a wizard with young horses, pre-entered a pair of fillies. Almost an Angel and Sweet Shirley Mae are both sprint winners with graded stakes experience. Almost an Angel has yet to race on dirt and also is pre-entered in the Juvenile Fillies (second preference). Almost an Angel won third out on grass at Belmont and failed to make an impact in a pair of graded routes for her last two starts. Sweet Shirley Mae defeated the promising colt Bern Identity in her debut over sloppy going and recently placed second in the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga. Her Beyers are a bit light when compared to the big hitters that were pre-entered, but Sweet Shirley Mae seems to be slowly learning the game.

Hazardous, a 13 1/4-length winner of a claiming race at Santa Anita on Oct. 14, and the maiden Hightail complete the list of pre-entries.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Race-by-race coverage, video, early odds]