Saturday’s $200,000 Grade 2 Santa Anita Sprint Championship puts the west’s fastest runners on display in a tune up for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint now just five weeks away at The Great Race Place. That’s part of a program Saturday that includes the Awesome Again Stakes, the Eddie D. and City of Hope Mile.
Let’s Meet the Contenders for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship:
#1-American Theorem (Umberto Rispoli // George Papaprodromu) -1
Son of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has lost 4 straight since his signature 2022 scores in the Triple Bend at Santa Anita and Del Mar’s Bing Crosby. Late runner makes his third start of the year after an eighth-place Breeders’ Cup Sprint effort last autumn.
#2-Dr. Schivel (Juan Hernandez // Mark Glatt)
The 2021 Santa Anita Sprint Championship winner is looking to get back to that form of two years ago when he came within a nose of adding the Breeders’ Cup Sprint title at Del Mar. His ’22 campaign was cut short to just one race and he’s competed three times now as a 5-year-old with a narrow loss in the Bing Crosby last out.
#3-Arabian Lion (Edwin Maldonado // Bob Baffert) * pictured above *
Sophomore son of 2018 Triple Crown champ Justify takes on older horses for the first time. No stranger to big stages, he won the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard and the Grade 1 Woody Stephens on Belmont Day. Front-running sort teams with speed jockey Maldonado for the first time.
#4-Fort Bragg (Ramon Vazquez // Bob Baffert)
Like stablemate Arabian Lion next door, this 3-year-old will be making his first foray against elders on Saturday. He finished a dozen lengths behind that one when fourth in Saratoga’s Jerkens last out and is 1-for-6 in stakes bids.
#5-Visitant (Antonio Fresu // Peter Miller)
Synthetic surface specialist was a decent third at 22-1 last out in the Del Mar Mile when switching to the turf; now he’ll roll the dice on dirt for just the fifth time in his 22-race career. Runner-up on dirt in Churchill Downs’ Alysheba Stakes to the classy Maxfield in 2021.
#6-C Z Rocket (Giovanni Franco // Peter Miller)
Nine-year-old veteran has danced most of the big sprint dances over the past several years and was second by a nose in this race last season. He won this race in 2020 and was third in 2021, so this will be his fourth Santa Anita Sprint Championship appearance. The $2 million career earner is 50% in the exacta over his 42-race career.
#7-Sir Atticus (Mike Smith // John Shirreffs)
Co-most lightly raced horse in this lineup has made only four career starts. Finished fourth in his first stakes effort last time out in Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien, finishing 1-3/4 lengths behind third-place CZ Rocket, a return rival Saturday.
#8-Speed Boat Beach (Victor Espinoza // Bob Baffert)
Also with just four career starts in tow, this top 2-year-old turfer of 2022 hasn’t been to the races yet in his sophomore season. Won the Speakeasy and Cecil B. DeMille on turf at Santa Anita and Del Mar a year ago, while also winning his only dirt effort in a Del Mar debut maiden sprint. Espinoza rides for the first time off a series of bullet workouts.
#9-Spirit of Makena (Joe Bravo // George Papaprodromu)
Barn mate of American Theorem bookends the field while looking for a perk up in his return to Santa Anita. Flopped twice in Del Mar stakes bids this summer, but rattled off the San Carlos and Triple Bend by daylight margins in Arcadia this spring. Son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper is 3-for-3 at Santa Anita.