11/06/2016 12:30PM

F-M Sprint winner Finest City will race next year, trainer says

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Debra A. Roma
Finest City's victory in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint earned her a 94 Beyer Speed Figure.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Ian Kruljac enjoyed his best day by far as a racehorse trainer Saturday.

But, oh, how it could have been so much better.

Kruljac, 28, won the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita with Finest City, marking only the fourth winner of a solo training career that began in August 2015. The trainer’s commission for the victory is $55,000.

But Kruljac could have more than tripled his earnings on the day if only California Chrome had held off Arrogate to win the BC Classic two races later. Kruljac, on a lark, bet a pick six ticket that was live to a $138,110 payoff if California Chrome had won.

“The ticket cost me $144,” he said. “I singled my filly and him. I’m a horse trainer, not a gambler, but I thought I’d give it a shot.”

So now Kruljac will just have to settle for having a Breeders’ Cup winner in his Santa Anita barn. He is one of the youngest trainers ever to win a BC event – Craig Dollase was 27 when he won the 1998 BC Sprint with Reraise – and surely the trainer with the fewest prior wins.

Finest City, a three-quarter-length winner of the seven-furlong Filly-Mare Sprint under jockey Mike Smith, will be given a little down time while Kruljac and the filly’s owners figure out what is next. Wayne Seltzer and his son, Tyler, own her in the name of their Seltzer Thoroughbreds, and they intend to campaign the Pennsylvania-bred daughter of City Zip next year as a 5-year-old.

“She’s got her head up high this morning,” Kruljac said early Sunday while accepting congratulations from fellow trainers and others. “We’ll look at the stakes schedule and see what makes sense. We might take her back to the grass, I don’t know. It’s all good from here, though.”

The Seltzers live in the San Diego area, so a return to the Filly-Mare Sprint is the obvious goal when the Breeders’ Cup is run at Del Mar for the first time next fall.

Finest City earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure when finishing in 1:22.37.

Meanwhile, Wavell Avenue ended her career with another big run in the Filly-Mare Sprint. She chased Finest City to the wire while finishing second in the race she won last fall at Keeneland.

Trainer Chad Brown said the 5-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of Harlington has been sold privately by the four-way partnership that owned her and will be retired. She finishes with seven wins from 20 starts and earnings of $1,198,125.

From New York, trainer Michelle Nevin said she was pleased with the runs from both Paulassilverlining (third) and By the Moon (fifth) and that both exited the race in good order. “No plans of yet,” she said.