Updated on 09/15/2011 2:27PM

Why won't these sprinters leave well enough alone?


JAMAICA, N.Y. - The closest I came to cashing a ticket on Breeders' Cup Day was a pair of rolling pick threes, the first on the Juvenile Fillies-Mile-Sprint, and the second on the Mile-Sprint-Filly and Mare Turf.

The contention was covered admirably in three of those four races. Unfortunately, there was no pick three available on the Juvenile Fillies-Mile-Filly and Mare Turf, which, as fate would have it, happened to be the ones I got right.

The Sprint was right there in the middle, and it spoiled everything. It was hard to envision that Xtra Heat would be allowed to run the first quarter mile in a relatively slow 22.45 seconds, and that as a result the early speed would hang on to fill out the first three positions.

Moreover, no horseplayer in his right mind could have predicted that Squirtle Squirt, at 9-1 the longest-priced of the six Bobby Frankel-trained runners, would be the one to finally get him off the Breeders' Cup schneid.

I used El Corredor and Kona Gold on about 90 percent of my pick three tickets, and like thousands of bettors I watched dumbfounded as they ran up the track.

A few days after this latest Breeders' Cup Day of infamy, I picked up the Daily Racing Form edition carrying the Breeders' Cup charts and went about my routine of annotating them with my own personal hieroglyphics. As I did so, I took solace in the fact that I would not have to deal with these horses again for months and probably well into next year. Maybe some of them would even be retired, and I would never have to deal with them again!

Apparently, though, the Horseplayer Upstairs has a keen sense of humor. After finishing my record-keeping tasks, my next order of business was turning the page of my official New York Racing Association calendar. And there, stretched out in full glorious flight for the wire in the Cigar Mile, was this month's pin-up boy:

"El Corredor won the Cigar Mile for his fourth victory in five starts last year," reads the photo caption for the month of November. "His lone defeat was a second-place finish to Fusaichi Pegasus in the Jerome Mile at Belmont."

Do you mean to say I get to look at El Corredor's flying hooves for a whole 'nother month? It truly is a wonderful world!

Needless to say I quickly retrieved my trusty red Flair pen, and now my NYRA calendar has a spiffy new photo caption (and a stick-figure drawing) that depicts my feelings for this magnificent steed.

So I figured that's it, there's nothing more to remind me of the Sprint. Then, what do I see on the front page of Daily Racing Form this week but "Dandy De Francis - Dash with lots on the line."

Huh? Don't they run the De Francis in July or something?

Nope. It was moved back to November. Read all about it: Xtra Heat takes on Caller One, Kona Gold, and Delaware Township in a Breeders' Cup Sprint grudge match!

How are we supposed to handicap these sprinters this time? To recall, after they ran in last year's Sprint, Kona Gold got four months off; Caller One got a seven-week breather; and Delaware Township had 10 weeks of R&R. This time, they're all being trotted out again a mere three weeks later, ostensibly because the Eclipse is still up for grabs (it's not), but perhaps due in some small part to the fact that their connections are mad at them.

Let's look at the field in post-position order:

Say Florida Sandy: Amazing 7-year-old put up five consecutive Beyers in the 110-111 range during the middle of the year, but he is plainly crying for a rest after three consecutive defeats, the last two at odds-on.

Xtra Heat: On the plus side, she has the home-court advantage, and under the allowance conditions she's dropping weight after beating several of these. On the downside, she exhibits the Beyer-coined "three-and-out" pattern after three lifetime tops in a row.

Delaware Township: In the money in only one of four Grade 1 attempts, when given a perfect set-up in the 6 1/2-furlong Forego Handicap. Weight could be an issue: He has won eight of 14 starts when carrying 119 pounds or less, but under 120 or more has won once from six starts.

Early Flyer: Two one-turn races with Lasix earlier this year produced wins with Beyers of 109 and 110, and we might conceivably project a few additional points for this 3-year-old nearly six months later. But those wins came at seven furlongs, and trainer Ron McAnally's 61-180-day layoff stats are weak.

Caller One: Since midsummer of 2000, he has raced by appointment only. This will be the first time he's come back on short rest since a fifth-place finish in last year's Derby Trial. He also tried the quick turnaround as a juvenile in the Best Pal and backed up to finish last.

Boots on Sunday: The toast of Retama Park is a long way from home.

Kona Gold: After 15 consecutive exacta finishes spanning nearly three years, he showed little in the Sprint at Belmont, leading to a suspicion that he simply didn't like the loose, sandy surface. Then again, he did run his middle three-eighths in a swift-but-buried 33.85 seconds. Given that tactical disadvantage, it's at least somewhat understandable why he wasn't able to make his presence felt.

Kona Gold's blowouts in 34 and 33.40 seconds when he arrived back at Santa Anita this month are noteworthy, especially in view of the slow works he was given before the Sprint.

Let's make it Kona Gold-Xtra Heat-Caller One in the De Francis.

I have to go now, because my December issue of American Turf Monthly just came in the mail. Hopefully for the folks at ATM, their chalk-playing subscribers will see the humor in the fact that the "Horse of the Month" is Officer.