History's Top 10 Breeders' Cup Sprint performances

October 29th, 2022

Every year, the best dirt sprinters in North America square off over six furlongs in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), one of the oldest and richest races of the Breeders’ Cup program.

Over the course of 38 editions, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint has produced a bevy of eye-catching winners. Let’s take a tour through history and rank the Top 10 best Breeders’ Cup Sprint performances:

10. Roy H (2018)

The second of Roy H’s two Sprint victories came in 2018, and it was an eye-catching performance. After settling three lengths behind an opening quarter-mile in :21.35, Roy H made an early move to take command through half a mile in :44.21, then powered clear to beat 2020 Sprint winner Whitmore by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:08.24.

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9. Work All Week (2014)

Work All Week had every reason to fade after pressing blistering splits of :21.19 and :43.34 in the 2014 Sprint. But no one told that to Work All Week, who stayed on strongly down the homestretch to defeat reigning Sprint winner Secret Circle by half a length in 1:08.28.

8. Safely Kept (1990)

Unwavering tenacity carried Safely Kept to victory in the 1990 Sprint. She dueled for most of the race with favored European raider Dayjur, and when the latter famously jumped a shadow close to home, Safely Kept battled back to win by a neck. Future Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Black Tie Affair finished third, four lengths behind the top pair.

7. Precisionist (1985)

The second running of the Sprint saw Precisionist shrug off a four-month layoff, cut back from 1 1/4 miles to six furlongs, and somehow rally to defeat 1986 Sprint winner Smile by three-quarters of a length in 1:08 2/5. Precisionist was a tried-and-true route racer boasting a pair of Grade 1 wins over 1 1/4 miles, but he showcased tremendous versatility in the 1985 Sprint.

6. Roy H (2017)

When Roy H secured his first Sprint victory in 2017, he beat one of the best fields ever assembled for the six-furlong dash. His pace-tracking, one-length victory in 1:08.61 came at the expense of 2016 Sprint winner Drefong, 2020 Sprint winner Whitmore, and four-time Grade 1 winner Imperial Hint, to name just a few.

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5. Very Subtle (1987)

The three-year-old filly Very Subtle had no trouble defeating older male rivals in the 1987 Sprint. Dashing to the lead through blazing fractions of :21 1/5 and :44, Very Subtle steadily widened her advantage down the homestretch to trounce Grade 1 winner and heavy favorite Groovy by four lengths in 1:08 4/5.

4. Kona Gold (2000)

The record for the fastest Sprint ever contested on dirt was set in 2000 by Kona Gold. Never more than 2 1/2 lengths behind almost unprecedented fractions of :20.82 and :43.56, Kona Gold steadily wore down the pacesetter and held off a pair of deep closers to prevail by a half-length in 1:07.77.

3. Artax (1999)

Kona Gold got the job done in 2000, but in 1999 he settled for second place as Artax delivered a Sprint performance for the ages. Artax dueled for command through an opening quarter-mile in :22.04, accelerated to seize a clear advantage through four furlongs in :44.06, and somehow found enough strength to run the final quarter-mile in :23.83 and beat Kona Gold by a half-length in 1:07.89.

2. Midnight Lute (2008)

The overall record for fastest Breeders’ Cup Sprint belongs to Midnight Lute, and it’s not even close. Racing over a synthetic track in 2008, Midnight Lute launched a relentless outside rally from 7 3/4 lengths off the pace to get up and win by 1 3/4 lengths in the sensational clocking of 1:07.08. In the process, Midnight Lute became the first two-time winner of the Sprint.

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1. Midnight Lute (2007)

The Sprint is such a competitive race, it’s difficult for horses to win by wide margins. But that didn’t stop Midnighte Lute from obliterating a deep field by a record margin in 2007, sweeping from 10 1/2 lengths behind to dominate by 4 3/4 lengths over a sloppy track. One of his beaten rivals was 2008 champion male sprinter Benny the Bull.