Top 10 Breeders’ Cup Sprint Finishes

By Ray Wallin

Whether you are a casual racing fan or you make your living playing the races, the Breeders’ Cup offers great excitement and value. One of the original seven Breeders’ Cup races, the BC Sprint has always featured hot fractions and fulfilled our “need for speed.”


#1 Only the Shadow Knows

In 1990, Safely Kept got out to the early lead only to be challenged through the entire stretch drive by Dayjur. Dayjur looks like he has the race won until he jumps over a shadow and loses a step late. These two were nose to nose from the top of the stretch until Dayjur jumped the shadow. This would be jockey Craig Perret’s second win and trainer Alan Goldberg’s only win in this event.


#2 Dancing Spree

In 1989 future winner Safely Kept got out to the early lead only to get nipped at the wire by the late running Dancing Spree, who settled back in ninth place early. He would give Angel Cordero, Jr., back to back winners in this event and trainer Shug McGaughey his only winner in this event. This narrow loss by Safely Kept set up an amazing finish the next year.


#3 Four Hit the Wire!

In 2009 there was a dramatic finish as four horses hit the wire too close to call. Dancing in Silks was the best that day over front runner Cost of Freedom, Crown of Thorns, and Gayego at Santa Anita. This would be his first and only Grade 1 victory in his first Grade 1 try.



#4 Thirty Slews Tops Meafara

In 1992 Thirty Slew gave trainer Bob Baffert his first Breeders’ Cup Sprint win in dramatic fashion. He managed to catch the filly Meafara in the final yards to win by a neck in an exciting stretch drive.



#5 Cardmania Up Late

In 1993, Meafara looked to come back off a close loss to Thirty Slews in an exciting race. Yet, Cardmania had other plans. His late run would beat both Meafara and 1992 winner Thirty Slews at the wire.



#6 Orientate in the Final Strides

In 2002 Thunderello set the early pace and would almost make it gate to wire. Orientate would get up in the final strides to give both jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer D. Wayne Lukas their second Breeders’ Cup Sprint victories.



#7 Secret Circle Rallies Wide

In 2013, Secret Circle would give Baffert his fourth winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in a gutsy finish. He would rally from six back going wide in the turn to catch Gentlemen’s Bet but then hold off the late charging Laugh Track to win by a head.


#8 No (Soviet) Problem for Cherokee Run

Mike Smith would guide Cherokee Run to his first Breeders’ Cup Sprint victory in 1994 with a strong stalking trip. He would duel with Soviet Problem through the stretch and finally get his head out in front right before the wire.



#9 Silver Train Holds Off Taste of Paradise

What if Taste of Paradise had been able to get through on the inside? Would the result have been any different? Even after being stymied on his initial bid, he swings to the outside and almost catches Silver Train at the wire.



#10 A Grey Blur in the Stretch

In 1996, Corey Nakatani would guide the first of three consecutive Breeders’ Cup Sprint winners in Lit de Justice. Track announcer Tom Durkin calls him the “grey blur” as he moves through the field to win by a length and a half and tying the track record time in the process.

Any time you have a lot of early speed horses and hot fractions, you can expect to see some great stretch runs. Who do you think will win the 2019 running of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita?


Editor’s Note: Leading up to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2, will feature top 10 lists of best finishes from each division of Breeders’ Cup races.


Ray Wallin
Ray Wallin is a licensed civil engineer and part-time handicapper who has had a presence on the Web since 2000 for various sports and horse racing websites and through his personal blog. Introduced to the sport over the course of a misspent teenage summer at Monmouth Park by his Uncle Dutch, a professional gambler, he quickly fell in love with racing and has been handicapping for over 25 years.

Ray’s background in engineering, along with his meticulous nature and fascination with numbers, parlay into his ability to analyze data; keep records; notice emerging trends; and find new handicapping angles and figures. While specializing in thoroughbred racing, Ray also handicaps harness racing, Quarter Horse racing, baseball, football, hockey, and has been rumored to have calculated the speed and pace ratings on two squirrels running through his backyard.

Ray likes focusing on pace and angle plays while finding the middle ground between the art and science of handicapping. When he is not crunching numbers, Ray enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on his alma mater (Rutgers University), fishing, and playing golf.

Ray’s blog, which focuses on his quest to make it to the NHC Finals while trying to improve his handicapping abilities can be found at Ray can also be found on Twitter (@rayw76) and can be reached via email at