Updated on 11/03/2012 10:28PM

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint: Mizdirection fires big off five-month layoff

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mizdirection, only one of two fillies in the Turf Sprint, gives trainer Mike Puype his first Breeders' Cup win.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Mizdirection knows the way around Santa Anita’s quirky downhill turf course. And trainer Mike Puype, it’s evident, knows how to bring a horse back from a layoff. Making her first start since May 27, the Mizdirection won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, her third win in three starts going 6 1/2 furlongs on grass here.  

Mizdirection’s layoff was the longest break between races for any Breeders’ Cup starter, but Puype had said all week he hadn’t even desired a prep race for the big spot. Nothing had gone seriously amiss with Mizdirection since she finished second more than five months ago at Hollywood Park. A little more than a month ago, with Mizdirection well along in her training, Alex Solis Jr., who put together the partnership that owns Mizdirection, suggested Puype start considering a comeback in the Breeders’ Cup.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Saturday results and video replays]

“He told me all the best colts out here had started getting hurt, and that we needed to start thinking about this race,” Puype said. “I was really content with not having a layoff race.”

Jockey Mike Smith, who became the leading Breeders’ Cup rider by wins this weekend, and scored his 17th such victory in the Turf Sprint, was riding the 6-1 Mizdirection for the first time since May 2011. When he was aboard her that day Mizdirection set the pace in a six-furlong turf race at Hollywood; Saturday, Smith found himself 11th of 14 after a half-mile had been run.

“The leaders got away from me a little bit, but I kept telling myself they had to be going too quick if they were that far in front of Mizdirection,” Smith said.

He was right. Irish invader Starstpangledbanner was pushed to the front from post 14, going clear through an opening quarter-mile in 21.11 seconds and a half in 42.39, an enervating tempo. Pressed by Great Mills and Reneezgotzip, Starspangledbanner held the lead to the top of the stretch but began to tire as closers ganged up. Unbridled’s Note briefly flashed to the fore, but Mizdirection was coming wider and finishing faster, and she pushed past to beat the 3-year-old Unbridled's Note by a half-length. Reneesgotzip ran well for third, with Great Mills holding fourth. Winning time for the 6 1/2 furlongs on a firm course was a fine 1:11.39.

Steve Asmussen, who had just won the Dirt Mile with Tapizar, sent out the second- and fourth-place finishers in the Turf Sprint. California Flag, the 8-year-old winner of the 2009 Turf Sprint who was making the last start of his career, never got involved and was 13th.

Mizdirection was a 20-1 shot on the morning line but opened up as the 7-2 favorite and wound up the 6-1 fourth choice, paying $15.80 to win.

Mizdirection, the second Breeders’ Cup winner this weekend for the sire Mizzen Mast, was bred by Joseph Perrotta in Kentucky, and is out of the mare Deceptive. Solis said he was involved in her purchase as a yearling, after which the partnership that owned her dissolved. Solis bought Mizdirection back as a 2-year-old, and after she won her maiden in her second start, she was again sold to a large group of partners that includes the television and radio sports-talk host Jim Rome.

“I’m still numb,” Rome said. “I’m having a hard time believing that she came back and won that race.”