History's Top 10 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint performances

October 29th, 2022

Since its inaugural running in 2008, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) has annually showcased the blinding speed of North America’s fastest grass dashers.

The 14 editions have produced a bevy of impressive winners and heart-pounding performance. Even European raiders occasionally join the fray.

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In advance of the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Keeneland, let’s rank the Top 10 best performances in the history of the Turf Sprint:

10. Glass Slippers (2020)

Blazing fractions of :21.26 and :43.81 gave Glass Slippers a perfect opportunity to upset the 2020 Turf Sprint, but not every horse would have won with her trip. Glass Slippers had to rally up the inside of a large field and split horses in the homestretch to win by half a length over the deep-closing Wet Your Whistle, a terrific performance given the number of places Glass Slippers could have hesitated.

9. Mizdirection (2012)

Mizdirection’s first victory in the Turf Sprint came via a fast pace over the downhill turf course at Santa Anita. After dropping as many as 7 3/4 lengths behind intense early fractions of :21.11 and :42.39, Mizdirection got up to win by three-quarters of a length in the snappy time of 1:11.39 for about 6 1/2 furlongs.

8. Mizdirection (2013)

Showing impressive adaptability, Mizdirection switched to pace-tracking tactics for her second Turf Sprint victory, sticking within a few lengths of :21.47 and :43.36 fractions before rallying strongly to score by half a length in 1:12.25.

7. Chamberlain Bridge (2010)

Chamberlain Bridge didn’t enjoy a clean journey in the 2010 Turf Sprint; he steadied in traffic during the opening quarter-mile and had to shift to the extreme outside for racing room down the lane. But none of these obstacles could stop the stretch-running gelding, who went from 3 1/2 lengths back at the furlong marker to 1 1/2 lengths clear at the finish line.

6. Belvoir Bay (2019)

Belvoir Bay conquered males in the 2019 Turf Sprint at Santa Anita using a sensational display of early speed. She dashed the opening quarter-mile in :21.47, sustained a sub-:22 pace for a half-mile in :43.43, and held on to win the five-furlong dash by 1 1/4 lengths in the course-record time of :54.83.

5. Bobby’s Kitten (2014)

The 2014 Turf Sprint unfolded at a modest pace for the downhill turf course at Santa Anita, with the leaders setting splits of :21.69 and :43.67. But even though Bobby’s Kitten was racing in last place by 13 lengths after the opening half-mile, the three-year-old colt unleashed a freakish rally to catch the pace-tracking No Nay Never and prevail by half a length.

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4. California Flag (2009)

The record for the fastest Turf Sprint ever contested over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course belongs to California Flag. A specialist over the unique course, California Flag rocketed to the front through fractions of :21.50, :43.09, and 1:05.28 before holding off the late runners to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:11.28.

3. Obviously (2016)

California Flag ran the faster final time, but Obviously set stiffer fractions when wiring the 2016 Turf Sprint over Santa Anita’s downhill turf course. Making his fifth Breeders’ Cup appearance at the age of eight, Obviously set splits of :21.41, :43.08, and 1:05.21 before digging deep to deny the deep-closing Om by a nose in 1:11.33.

2. Stormy Liberal (2018)

Over a yielding turf course at Churchill Downs, Stormy Liberal won a hard-fought edition of the 2018 Turf Sprint. Settling 2 1/2 lengths off the early pace, Stormy Liberal advanced to challenge pacesetter World of Trouble down the homestretch and tenaciously battled past to win by a neck. World of Trouble pulled 7 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Disco Partner (a seven-time stakes winner), indicating the strength of Stormy Liberal’s victory.

1. Golden Pal (2021)

Arguably no Turf Sprint winner has made a greater impression than 2021 hero Golden Pal. Breaking like an absolute rocket from the Del Mar starting gate, Golden Pal dashed the opening quarter-mile in :22.25 (excellent for a race with a mere 15-foot run-up distance), accelerated the half-mile in :43.91, and blazed the final furlong in :11.31 to score by 1 1/4 lengths in :55.22.

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