The Grade 1, $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship brings together a quintet of top sprinters in a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" contest on Saturday but the spotlight will be the rubber match between Roy H and Ransom the Moon. They have faced off against each other four times previously, each horse coming away with two wins. Ransom the Moon comes into the race off a win in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes in which his nemesis finished second while Roy H, who won this race last year, makes his second start after returning from a big third-place effort in the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen Stakes in March. Then there's the ultra-speedy Distinctive B, the likely early pacesetter in this short field, who is trained by Peter Miller, who also conditions Roy H. The field is rounded out by Edwards Going Left and Horse Greedy. Edwards Going Left finished a non-threatening fourth behind Ransom the Moon in the Bing Crosby and appears to have his work cut out for him. Horse Greedy's best effort in a stakes race came when third in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes in June but in his previous two graded stakes efforts he was beaten by a combined total of 33 ¾ lengths.
In spite of the class of both Roy H and Ransom the Moon, I am going to take a shot with Distinctive B, who may be all alone on an easy early lead in this short field. Horses often outrun their own ability when on an easy early lead and can gain a confidence sometimes seen never before or after those kinds of efforts. Distinctive B earned a career-best 115 Equibase Speed Figure in his most recent start on Aug. 26 when coasting to an easy 4 ½ length win, so it is presumed he could have run even faster. Last year, Roy H earned a 117 figure when second to Ransom the Moon in the Bing Crosby Stakes before winning the Santa Anita Sprint Championship and that is the kind of effort Distinctive B may be capable of that could propel him to the upset win and a guaranteed spot in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Ransom the Moon won the Bing Crosby Stakes when last seen at the end of July, for the second year in a row. Flavien Prat rides him again, justifiably choosing to ride him over Distinctive B, who Prat also rode to victory in his most recent race. Following his Bing Crosby win last year, which earned him a career-best 121 figure, Ransom the Moon regressed and only managed to finish fourth in this race. However, with a sparkling :47 flat half-mile workout coming into this year's race, which was the best of 63 workouts on the day at the distance, he could return to his best form which would be good enough to win.
Traveling halfway across the world often takes a lot out of a horse, so following his third-place finish in the Golden Shaheen in Dubai in March it was no real surprise to see Roy H beaten in the Bing Crosby when finishing two lengths behind Ransom the Moon while never threatening to win. Last year, Roy H reeled off three straight wins in the spring including the True North Stakes before finishing second in the Bing Crosby to Ransom the Moon, then won this race and the Breeders' Cup Sprint in the fall. Roy H began his 2018 campaign in February with a strong win in the Palos Verdes Stakes with a 113 speed figure before traveling to Dubai and was not disgraced one bit when third behind Mind Your Biscuits in the Golden Shaheen. Rested four months, Roy H may have been a bit short of 100 percent fit when second in the Bing Crosby. Considering the 123 figure earned last year winning this race and the 128 figure winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint are the best two figures earned by any horse in the field, if he can recapture that form, he will win.
The rest of the field, with their best representative figures is Edwards Going Left (113) and Horse Greedy (107).
Ransom the Moon