Why Bobby’s Kitten Will Win the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

Why Bobby’s Kitten Will Win the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint

Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

Bobby's Kitten winning the 2014 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint - Breeders' Cup Photo
Bobby’s Kitten winning the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint – Breeders’ Cup Photo (c)

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.

Because he tends to waste a lot of energy fighting his jockeys and trying to sprint to the lead, Bobby’s Kitten has lost several races that he should have won and finished well back in races where he could have earned a respectable finish. The fact is that Bobby’s Kitten has the speed of a sprinter, and he has the personality of a sprinter as well–he wants to run all-out from the start.

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:

Notice how Bobby’s Kitten (#6) isn’t fighting his rider at all in the early stages of the Turf Sprint–in fact, he seems quite relaxed. The reason was perhaps entirely due to the early pace of the Turf Sprint–:21.69 for the first quarter-mile and :43.67 for the half-mile. In my opinion, the reason Bobby’s Kitten was at the back of the pack is not because he was being restrained by his rider, but because he was being run off his feet by some of the best sprinters in the country. As a result, Bobby’s Kitten had to run faster than usual to keep up, which allowed him to get into a rhythm and actually relax, which is something he has trouble doing in longer races with slower paces. And what can a relaxed version of Bobby’s Kitten do? Rally from last place to win with a spectacular burst of acceleration, that’s what.

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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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.

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5 Comments on "Why Bobby’s Kitten Will Win the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint"

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That last mile race set him up perfectly.


good theory and it worked well for keen ice too.

Thomas McDonald

Great pick. He should pay at least $20. I’ll be using him on my tickets.Thanks, Keelerman.

Eric Rickard

I always liked him and his “closing kick” last year. Question, is Undrafted out for the year?