Wild Dude gets winning jump on Kobe's Back in Santa Anita Sprint Championship

October 4th, 2015

When talking about top contenders for the upcoming TwinSpires.com Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), the discussion has tended to be dominated by East Coast-based runners like Runhappy, Private Zone, and Rock Fall.

Southern California will, of course, be represented in the race, too, most likely by Wild Dude and Kobe's Back, the one-two finishers in Saturday's $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1).

Both were 15 lengths or more behind early as 3-5 favorite Masochistic and Distinctiv Passion dueled through splits of :21.44 and :43.93, but the pair eventually caught up to those two plus longshot Glacken Too inside the final furlong. Wild Dude, though, got a huge jump on the notoriously slow-breaking Kobe's Back and clung to victory by a neck under Rafael Bejarano.

Wild Dude, co-owned by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Green Smith, paid $6.20 after completing six furlongs on a fast track in 1:09.45

Wild Dude has been far from a dominating force in the Southern California sprint ranks, but had picked up other important wins in the San Carlos (G2) and Bing Crosby (G1) earlier in the season. Third in the Palos Verdes (G2), Los Angeles (G3), and Triple Bend (G1), he was most recently second to Saturday's Kelso H. (G2) victor Appealing Tale in the Pat O'Brien (G2). Wild Dude's one true dud of the campaign occurred in his lone trip outside California, when he finished sixth in the Carter H. (G1) at Aqueduct.

Although Wild Dude might not be the best traveler, Kobe's Back has shown signs of life outside the Golden State. Unfortunately, slow starts have compromised his effectiveness just about everywhere. The lone recent exception occurred at Keeneland in April, when he powered home to win the Commonwealth (G3) by three parts of a length. However, the Commonwealth was at seven furlongs and the Breeders' Cup Sprint is at six furlongs. Another tardy beginning is likely to dash Kobe's Back's chances before they even start.

Neither horse appears to be quite up to the standard of the top East Coast-based contenders, but their chances can't be completely discounted, especially if there's a Sprint Championship-type meltdown on Breeders' Cup Day.

The disappointment of the race was obviously Masochistic, who readily threw in the towel after leading by a length at the eighth pole. He survived less strenuous duels to take the Kona Gold (G2) and Triple Bend earlier this year, but this one proved too hot for him. An attempt to stalk-and-pounce didn't work out so well in his prior start either, when he was passed late by Wild Dude in the Bing Crosby as the odds-on choice.

In the $100,000 Eddie D. (G3), a race that in recent years had served as an important course-and-distance prep for the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (G1), ex-claimer No Silent earned his first career stakes win and his third victory in a row for owner Double JH Stable and trainer Gary Mandella. Ridden by Gary Stevens, the 6-1 chance won by 1 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:13.04 over firm ground.

None of the Eddie D. participants appear to be of Turf Sprint quality this year.

(Wild Dude photo: Benoit Photos)