Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
Another of the new races, with just six previous runnings, the Filly and Mare Sprint has actually only been run three times over seven furlong on dirt. After its inauguration over six sloppy Monmouth eighths, there were two Pro-Ride diversions at Santa Anita. Then, in 2010, the Filly and Mare Sprint found its metier, at Churchill Downs.
Two runs there and back to a reinstated dirt surface at Santa Anita are largely all we have to go on, so trends are a little thin on the ground, and should be treated with a degree more caution than elsewhere, where more consistency of conditions can be found.
Traditionally, the West Coast sprinters have been better than the East Coast: certainly that's been the case in the main dirt sprint at six furlongs. But this is for girls only and is seven furlongs.
The most obvious and consistent trend to emerge so far at this somewhat specialist distance is that five of the six winners had already won over seven furlongs.
Last year's winner, Groupie Doll, was a stand out and justified odds-on favouritism, returning at a skinny 7/10. But... she was far and away the best filly in the race.
Here's the tape of that facile and dominant success...
One other thing to note is that all of the last four winners have taken the same preparatory route: PID Masters at Presque Isle Downs, and Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland.
Last year, Groupie Doll won them both. This year, she won the PID Masters and ran third in the TCA behind Judy The Beauty, herself third in the PID Masters. There may again not be much between the pair.
All six winners so far had had busy seasons, with two - Ventura and Informed Decision - coming here off six previous seasonal spins, all the way up to Musical Romance's incredible thirteen (!) prior races.