Watch the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd November.
By Peter Fornatale
The Juvenile Turf Sprint is still in its infancy as a main card Breeders' Cup race, with this year's race being only the second renewal. With the three of the undercard renewals run under very different conditions to what the runners will face at Santa Anita this year, there is little to go on in terms of trends. Last year's winner, Bulletin, came into the race off of just one run, a victory on debut at minor stakes level.
Four Wheel Drive is a deserving morning line favorite. Last time out in the G3 Futurity at Belmont, he looked to have a perfect trip but it was one of his own making. It was visually impressive, and he ran a big Beyer, maintaining his unbeaten record in the process.
Another Miracle finished in behind him there, having previously won a listed stake at Saratoga. A big step up will be required to reverse that form, but this son of American Pharoah definitely has talent.
Four Wheel Drive will be joined at the top of the market by his stablemate Kimari, who gives Wesley Ward an incredibly strong hand. Kimari has not run quite as fast as Four Wheel Drive on Beyers but her run at Royal Ascot looks to compare favourably on Timeform ratings and speed figures. Her latest, last-to-first run – in the Indian Summer was extremely impressive visually and she has form that ties in with the best European fillies of her sex. She’s shown great versatility in terms of running style as well.
Chimney Rock was runner up in that race, also coming from the rear but not quite as quickly as Kimari. That was her second runner-up finish in a row having been runner up to yet another Wesley Ward runner in Cambria.
Making her turf debut when winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint, Cambria is now unbeaten in three starts but hasn't been quite as flashy as her stablemates in those victories and probably needs to improve to win, as does Ward's other runner Karak, marooned on the AE list. She was sent over to contest the Windsor Castle Stakes but proved relatively easy in the market and looks unsuited by the soft ground at Royal Ascot. She has done OK since, however, wining at a minor Stakes race before a fourth-placed finish in the Matron at Belmont. Karak was a bit too free that day and should benefit from the drop to five, but she looked to have her limitations exposed.
Ward looks to have a strong chance of taking this year's Juvenile Turf Sprint but there will be several European contenders trying to spoil the party.
A'Aali confirmed what a good horse he was on that occasion and must have leading claims provided he is as comfortable on this sharp track as he has been on straight tracks. He has twice run better numbers than any of his European contemporaries.
Flying Childers runner-up Dream Shot only has a novice win to his name and couldn't frank that form when second behind Dr Simpson in a Group 3 on the Polytrack at Dundalk. Dr Simpson has only recorded a single win on turf and the suspicion is that these are not strong form lines, with both horses having several defeats at Listed level. They are steady improvers who could hit the board but both are relatively exposed.
Indeed, Dream Shot and Dr Simpson have finished behind Alligator Alley this season. He had looked a talent horse but proved very disappointing when a well beaten favourite in the Flying Childers - wouldn't be the first runner to not enjoy Doncaster, so might be able to figure here if he can return to his earlier level of form.
Band Practice is an improving sprinter for Archie Watson. She has an improving look, having beaten just one runner in her first two starts. This is such a different test than what she was doing in France but she could step forward again the required amount to make the frame.
King Neptune is difficult to weigh up. He looked good when winning his maiden but his form had mostly been on a downward spiral since he was beaten at odds-on on his second start. He was well behind A'Aali at Royal Ascot and could only manage a fifth placed finished in a sales race a Doncaster on his penultimate start. He appeared to run massively above himself last time in a red-hot Middle Park, but may well have been flattered by making the running. Nonetheless, that is amongst the best form on paper and he is, of course, trained by a genius.
Encoder won a minor Stakes at Del Mar but was well held last time in a similar contest over a mile. He needs to prove he can sprint and this might be a difficult place to do that.
VERDICT: I’m most interested in the two Ward runners with preference for KIMARI. Her combination of speed, class, and versatility might prove too much for this group. I will also have a straight-forecast with Four Wheel Drive and Kimari.