Breeders' Cup 2012: Juvenile Sprint

Harry How

Merit Man leads a field of speedy juveniles at the Breeders' Cup.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint
6 Furlongs, Dirt
Two-year-olds
$500,000

Day: Friday, Nov. 2nd
Post Time: 1:06pm Pacific
TV: NBCSN

The second running of the Juvenile Sprint kicks off the Breeders' Cup portion of the card on Friday at Santa Anita with a field of seven two-year-olds going six furlongs on the main track.

In a race where it's almost impossible to predict which two-year-old will take a massive step forward in development, it's best to stick with what we know. Merit Man simply dominated the ungraded Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita in his first race on dirt (he broke his maiden over the Polytrack at Del Mar). It's hard to ignore the home-court advantage in a race like this.

South Floyd, owned by Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino, finished second to Merit Man in the Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita in his last start. He was beaten by 5 ½ length that day but got stuck down inside of Merit Man for a good portion of the race in the early stages. South Floyd drew post position 4 in this race, just to the outside of Merit Man, and should benefit from a cleaner trip around the track.

Super Ninety Nine has only run one race in his career but it was a very professional 1 ¼ length victory against maiden company at seven furlongs at Santa Anita. Seven furlongs can be a tricky distance for a horse to make his debut but this colt had little to no problem that day.

The filly Sweet Shirley Mae should get plenty of pace to run at and might be able to pick up the pieces in the final furlong but she can't afford to get too far behind in the early stages if she's to have a legit chance at winning this race.

The Pick

The small field eliminated the chances for a big, life-changing wager in the Juvenile Sprint but it does provide an opportunity to strongly back a couple of very nice runner. Merit Man has more flash when looking at the speed figures but South Floyd should get a perfect trip outside of his rival. If Ramon Dominguez can get South Floyd to settle down in the early stages, he could send Rick Pitino to the winner's circle on the first Breeders' Cup race of 2012.

4-South Floyd (6/1)
3-Merit Man (8/5)
5-Super Ninety Nine (5/1)

The Field

Post Horse Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Hightail R. Maragh D.W. Lukas 8/1
2 Ceiling Kitty (GB) J. Velazquez T. Dascombe 12/1
3 Merit Man P. Valenzuela R. Hess 8/5
4 South Floyd R. Dominguez D. O'Neill 6/1
5 Super Ninety Nine M. Garcia B. Baffert 5/1
6 Hazardous E. Maldonado C. O'Callaghan 8/1
7 Sweet Shirley Mae J. Rosario W. Ward 4/1

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