The Runhappy Turf Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs may be a six-furlong race, but it’s not your daddy’s turf sprint. While some turf sprints are contested on hard courses with tight turns that favor speed horses, the Runhappy Turf Sprint is contested on a hilly, deep course and starts at the top of the one turn, all of which could work against speed types. Keep in mind, that since 2007, in the last 11 runnings of the Grade 3 stakes (it was not held in 2011) only one horse led after a half-mile and seven of the 11 were fourth or worse at that same point. This race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” event for the Turf Sprint on Nov. 7 at Keeneland.
runhappy turf sprint stakes
1. Renaisance Frolic (50-1): He has speed but it’s been at a mile or more. Two starts back, he ran a mile-and-a-half, so he has stamina. He’s never run at six furlongs before, but the turnback in distance for a sharp trainer in Saffie Joseph Jr. makes him an interesting possibility.
2. Stubbins (8-1): He was second over this course at 6 ½ furlongs in a Grade 3 stakes last year, so he fits in this field. Might have moved too soon in the Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes at six furlongs back in June but has been freshened since then and might work out a good trip here.
3. Front Run the Fed (5-1): He also has stamina on his side after racing seven furlongs or more in his last five starts. It’s his first start in a graded stakes but his speed figures fit. Look for him to be closing quickly at the end for grass guru Chad Brown and Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano.
4. Totally Boss (9-2): He won this race last year so the conditions will definitely suit him. He missed by a neck in the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in his last start, so he will be formidable once again here.
5. Bombard (20-1): He enjoyed some success two years ago on the downhill course at Santa Anita Park, but the ups and downs here are a different story. It’s his third start after a layoff so he’s eligible to improve after a seventh in the Del Mar Mile.
6. Kanthaka (5-1): He was a sharp second in the Jaipur Stakes while making his debut for Graham Motion and may have found a home on turf after making his first 10 starts on dirt. If he can duplicate his effort in the Jaipur, he’ll be a major force here.
7. American Anthem (12-1): It’s a tough spot for his turf debut but is pedigree isn’t bad and he has a trainer in Mike Maker who excels with turf runners. Can’t dismiss him based on his tries in dirt stakes, but he’s equally hard to embrace.
8. Bon Raison (30-1): He was claimed in his last start for $80,000 out of a dirt race at Saratoga in which he was a well-beaten third. His turf starts are not convincing enough to paint him as a threat here.
9. Imprimis (8-1): He was disqualified from first to third in the Troy Stakes and whatever your opinion of the DQ, he was the best horse in the field. He was fourth as the favorite in this race last year while enduring a tough trip. Ignore him at your own risk this year.
10. Richiesinthehouse (15-1): He’s a win machine with 14 victories in his 21 starts. He has plenty of speed and was an easy winner at Presque Isle Downs in his 2020 debut last month. If they let him get clear early, he might be tough to reel in.
11. Archidust (12-1): He’s in great form off a pair of stakes wins at Monmouth Park after moving to Steve Asmussen’s barn, but this course may not suit him. He was fourth behind Stubbins here last year after a slow start and others are more attractive in a typically competitive Kentucky Downs stakes.
12. Bound for Nowhere (5-1): He rarely turns in a weak effort and lost by a head and a neck in the Shakertown (where Totally Boss was second) and by a head in a Grade 3 California stakes in his last two starts. He could work out a nice trip pressing the leaders from the outside and he has enough stamina to be battling until the end.
13. Tiger Blood (20-1, AE): He’s one of four entrants who are on the also-eligible list and will need a scratch/scratches in order to run. He was eighth behind Totally Boss and Bound for Nowhere in the Shakertown but was only 1 ¾ lengths behind.
14. Fast Boat (15-1, AE): Was a close fourth in the Shakertown but will need some scratches to run.
15. Hollis (30-1, AE): Was nearly three lengths behind fellow AE Tiger Blood two starts back.
16. Admiral Lynch (15-1, AE): Looks like a difficult spot for a horse with a weak turf pedigree making his grass debut.
THE PICK: Front Run the Fed
LIVE LONGSHOT: Renaisance Frolic