California-based Mizdirection won the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, both at Santa Anita (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
In reviewing what happened at this year’s Breeders’ Cup with an eye toward next year’s third-straight stop at Santa Anita Park, we’ve already identified a few angles worth remembering. Both involved foreign horses in races like the Breeders’ Cup Marathon and the series’ juvenile turf races.
Yet there was one home-grown angle that blossomed once again in Arcadia, Calif., on a sunny, warm November afternoon.
For the fourth straight time a California-based runner won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint over Santa Anita’s unique Downhill Turf Sprint, making it imperative to give Californians extra consideration a year from now.
Contested at a 6 ½-furlong distance that’s longer than the 5-furlong turf sprint at most tracks, Santa Anita’s course also features a downhill turn and a short portion of the race in which the field races over dirt before turning into the stretch.
This year, California-based Mizdirection won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint for a second year in a row. Beyond that, her victory in this year’s edition of the $1 million race raised her record to a perfect 6-for-6 in 6 ½-furlong turf sprints at Santa Anita.
A horse for a course? Of course.
She wasn’t alone, though, in possessing a fondness for the Downhill Turf Course.
RENESSGOTZIP WINNING THE 2012 SKILLFUL JOY STAKES
The horse who was fourth earlier this month in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, Unbridled’s Note, was second in the race a year ago and prior to this year’s edition had a career record of two wins, a second and a third in four career starts on the Downhill Turf Course.
Going back further in time, the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint was launched in 2008 at Santa Anita and in that year as well as 2009, when the series returned to Santa Anita, it was a Californian who prevailed. Desert Code won at 36-1 in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and California Flag triumphed in 2009 at 3-1 as the first-, second- and fourth-place finishers all had raced at Santa Anita in their previous start.
That adds up to a perfect 4-for-4 record for Californians as well as three runner-up finishes.
Streaks do not last forever, yet in this case the results are logical because of the unique nature of the course. It’s understandable that some horses might not care for the conditions, while others who are exposed to it on a regular basis could easily develop an affinity for it.
At this point in time, there’s no telling how many horses from this year’s race will return in 2014, but when the entries for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint are drawn a year from now, it’s not the names that will matter. It’s where they come from.
Remember, home is where the heart is – and also where the next winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita can be found.
THE LESSON: In next year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, on Santa Anita’s Downhill Turf Course, stay close to home and back a Californian.