Breeders’ Cup Photo ©
Yes indeed, you read that headline correctly–I am about to tell you why Bobby’s Kitten, who hasn’t come close to winning in two starts this year, is going to score an upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I) on October 31st at Keeneland.
…Well, perhaps I’ll issue a few caveats first. No one can know for certain if a given horse will win a given race, and the reasoning I’m about to offer could be way off base. But barring the unforeseen, I plan to back Bobby’s Kitten to win the Turf Sprint, because I think I can make a solid case for that he has a strong chance to win.
First off, let’s briefly recap his two races this year. On August 23rd, he returned from a layoff of nearly ten months to compete in the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes (gr. III) at Woodbine, in which he set a fast pace for six furlongs (1:08.44) before tiring to finish seventh. Then, on October 3rd, he was never closer than seventh in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. I) and wound up finishing ninth.
At first glance, this doesn’t look like the record of a horse that will win any graded stakes race this year, let alone the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, but there’s a common theme in both of these races that should be carefully noted, and which I feel is the key to Bobby’s Kitten’s inconsistent nature.
Quite simply, he was rank in both races.
Take a look at the replay of the Shadwell Turf Mile, and you’ll see what I mean. Bobby’s Kitten, breaking from post nine, spent the first half of the race fighting the restraint of his jockey, a characteristic that is not new for Bobby’s Kitten. He has been rank in many of his races throughout his career, including the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I), in which he set a fast pace before tiring to finish third.
As odd as it may seem, I believe this is the exact reason why Bobby’s Kitten was able to win the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with a tremendous rally from last place. Yes–from last place, a position that would on most occasions have Bobby’s Kitten fighting his rider for all he’s worth. But take a look at the replay of the race:
Now, this year’s Turf Sprint won’t be quite the same as in 2014. Last year’s edition was held on the 6 1/2-furlong downhill turf course at Santa Anita, whereas the 2015 renewal will be held at 5 1/2 furlongs on a level course at Keeneland. Nevertheless, I believe there’s a strong chance that the results will be the same. With plenty of top-notch sprinters to ensure a fast pace, we should see Bobby’s Kitten settle near the rear of the field once again, running faster than usual to keep up and hopefully relaxing in the process. If this combination comes together as I expect, I think we’ll see the real Bobby’s Kitten return on October 31st, and I think we’ll see him back in the Breeders’ Cup winner’s circle.
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