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Breeders' Cup Sprint: Baffert hits hard with one-two-three punch
By Mike Welsch
ARCADIA, Calif. – Bob Baffert has already won the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint more times – three – than any other trainer in the 28-year history of the event. On Saturday, he’ll have three chances to win it again when he sends out a trio of top contenders, Coil, Capital Account and Fast Bullet, against 11 rivals in arguably the most competitive and attractive betting race on the second and final day of the 2012 Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Baffert, who captured the 1992 Sprint with Thirty Slews and again in 2007 and 2008 with Midnight Lute, believes any of his three horses can win the race with a little racing luck. Coil outfinished Capital Account by a head when the pair rallied to finish first and second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship four weeks earlier. Fast Bullet has run only twice, winning both of those starts, and not since capturing an entry-level allowance race one year ago.
“Fast Bullet, if he breaks well and can get out there and have things his own way he can be dangerous even off the layoff,” said Baffert. “He’s a really fast horse and I’m just going to let him roll away from there. He’s the kind of horse I can do this with off a layoff because he trains so well. If he was a lazy horse, I couldn’t do it.”
Baffert acknowledged that late-runners like Coil and Capital Account have an experience edge over Fast Bullet but will need some racing luck to win considering all the traffic they could encounter going six furlongs in a 14-horse field.
“The other two are hard to separate and will have to catch some luck, but they’ll be coming late,” said Baffert. “I’d give the edge to the two of them over Fast Bullet just because they’ve been running. This is going to be a tough race. There are some really good horses in this field. I think Amazombie will run a lot better than he did last time. It was a loose track that day and he really didn’t bring his ‘A’ game.”
Amazombie is the defending Sprint champion, having rallied to a neck victory over Force Freeze a year ago at Churchill Downs. Trained by Bill Spawr, who also owns a share of the horse along with Thomas Sanford, Amazombie has started five times this season, posting two victories including a decision over Capital Account in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby. He finished fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Trainer Bill Spawr acknowledged that Amazombie may not have gone into the Sprint Championship at his best, but believes that all signs point to him being 100 percent for a defense of his title on Saturday.
“We ran some blood tests on him after his last race and they were a little off, showed a bit of stress and dehydration, but all the tests are good now and I’m confident he’ll run a big race this time,” said Spawr. “The only worry I have is if the track is on the heavy side again, like it was when he ran here last month.”
The four locally based Sprint contenders could receive a stiff challenge from several Eastern invaders, a group led by Grade 1 winners The Lumber Guy and Poseidon’s Warrior.
The Lumber Guy, one of only two 3-year-olds in the field along with the multiple-graded-stakes-winning Trinniberg, returned from a 4 ½- month layoff to register a 1 ¼-length decision over Caixa Eletronica in the Vosburgh, his first start against older horses.
Poseidon’s Warrior ran the race of his life over a muddy track to defeat Justin Phillip, also a member of the Sprint lineup, by a neck at odds of 36-1 in the Vanderbilt. He finished a game third, three lengths behind The Lumber Guy, after engaging in a race-long pace duel in the Vanderbilt.
Sum of the Parts, one of four members of the lineup who received a free ride into the Sprint by virtue of capturing a Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Keeneland’s Grade 3 Phoenix, figures to give Fast Bullet a run for his money on the lead if able to break cleanly from the rail. Trinniberg, who’ll compete in blinkers for the first time this year, should also be on or close to the pace from the outset.
Completing the lineup are Jimmy Creed, third in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship; Gantry, who captured the Win and You’re In Smile at Calder; and Smiling Tiger, Hamazing Destiny and Boxer des Rues.
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