The $1 million Filly & Sprint (G1) is the first of nine Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday, and the 7-furlong event features an abundance of early pace on paper.
The possible top two betting choices, multiple Grade 1 winners Gamine and Serengeti Empress, possess excellent gate speed. Venetian Harbor, who exits a wire-to-wire victory in Keeneland’s Raven Run (G2) as the 8-5 favorite, does her best running on the engine as well.
The race may set up for a strong finisher, but are any of the late runners good enough to beat the likes of Gamine, Serengeti Empress, and Venetian Harbor?
Sconsin merits a serious look in my estimation. She exits her best performance to date, a convincing tally in the 7-furlong Eight Belles (G2) on Sept. 4, and the 3-year-old filly appears to be peaking at the right time for Greg Foley.
Sophomore fillies have captured the last two runnings, with Covfefe scoring as the 3-2 favorite in front-running fashion at Santa Anita last year and Shamrock Rose posting a 25-1, last-to-first upset in the 2018 Filly & Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.
Sconsin earned her first stakes victory in the Eight Belles. She started to come on this summer, recording a five-length allowance triumph in mid-June, and followed with a pair of non-threatening stakes placings behind brilliant loose-on-the-lead winners, Four Graces in the Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland and Mundaye Call in the Audubon Oaks at Ellis Park.
Four Graces and Mundaye Call went at it during the early stages of the Eight Belles, and Sconsin blew past them in upper stretch to win by an easy 2 1/4-length margin. The well-built Include filly registered a career-best 100 Brisnet Speed and her third triple-digit Late Pace rating (106) from the last four starts.
I respect the late-running abilities of Derby City Distaff (G1) winner Bell’s the One and multiple Grade 3 queen Sally’s Curlin, but do have some concerns. Bell’s the One exits an all-out nose win and has not been able to string together wins over the last two seasons. Sally’s Curlin may not be sharp enough presently.
Sconsin appears to have more to offer. She is training forwardly in preparation, according to reports, and improving fillies with limited stakes experience have thrived in previous editions of the Filly & Mare Sprint.
In Keeneland’s first Breeders’ Cup in 2015, Wavell Avenue closed from off the pace to post a 10-1 upset in the Filly & Mare Sprint. Similar to Sconsin, the Chad Brown-trained filly was making her fourth stakes attempt after earning a career-best Speed rating (101) for a fine late-running performance in her last outing.
Sconsin looks poised to run a big race, and she will receive the right setup.