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Belmont Derby, Oaks & Sprint
Jockey Corey Nakatani gives Thor's Echo a kiss in the winner's circle after the Sprint.
The $2 million TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) is the shortest race on Championship day, as 14 top sprinters went to the gate in this 6 furlong dash around one turn at Churchill Downs. Vosburgh and King's Bishop winner Henny Hughes was sent off as the heavy 8-5 favorite over California shipper Bordonaro, sent off as the 4-1 second choice off his win in the Ancient Title and a second in the Bing Crosby. Also in the field was 6-1 third choice Siren Lure, winner of the Pat O'Brien at Del Mar in August but unraced since.
Thor's Echo takes off in the stretch with Attila's Storm and Bordonaro behind who eventually finished 5th and 4th.
42-1 shot Attila's Storm was quickest out of the gate and battled with Bordonaro to his inside through a very fast initial quarter of 21.55, while 16-1 Thor's Echo sat just off these two in third for the backstretch run. Henny Hughes stumbled at the start and was shuffled to the back of the pack early. Around the far turn, Thor's Echo came out three wide to circle the pacesetters and poked his head out front at the top of the stretch after a half in 44.40. Through the stretch, under confident handling by jockey Corey Nakatani, Thor's Echo drew away to win by 4 commanding lengths in 1:08.80 over late-closing 59-1 Friendly Island. It was just 1/2 a length back to 29-1 Nightmare Affair in third, while Bordonaro was fourth. Henny Hughes showed no late response and finished last of all.
Thor's Echo wins by 4 lengths at odds of 15-1 in the Sprint.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Thor's Echo Nakatani 33.20 15.80 10.20 2 Friendly Island Dominguez 50.00 32.80 7 Nightmare Affair Prado 15.20 Winning Time: 1:08.80 $2 Exacta 1-2 955.40 $2 Trifecta 1-2-7 10,611.80 $2 Superfecta 1-2-7-6 113,911.80Results chart
Thor's Echo with his Breeders' Cup flowers. Winning trainer Doug O'Neill said, "I know I am blessed. Corey (Nakatani) gave this horse a marvelous ride. He had been training wonderfully coming up to the race, but Corey's ride was the key. We were joking about the post (#1), and saying we could sell it to somebody for good money. But in the end, the post turned out to be to our advantage. This is just a great, great experience for me and for my people."
Jockey Corey Nakatani celebrates aboard Thor's Echo. Nakatani said, "I was on the rail, so my main thing was getting him in the clear. He was traveling so well beneath me and on the backside, I was just looking for the spot to go. He ran a tremendous race. As I was turning for home, I turned him loose and what a race he ran. The inside is tight. I just put him in a place to win."
Thor's Echo heads back to the barn in his winner's blanket. His jockey Corey Nakatani said, "I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for this guy. We were just looking to get him on the track against the best sprinters in the country. He deserves to be a champion."
Second place finisher Friendly Island returns after the race. His jockey Ramon Dominguez said, "I thought we'd be a lot further back than we were but he was all keyed up today and I was a lot closer than I thought I would be. He's a very good old horse and you knew if the pace fell apart, he had a real chance to be there." Mike McCarthy, assistant to Todd Pletcher added, "It's a special effort, especially since he was 60-1. Todd told Ramon to take him back and make one run. He tried and this horse had running on his mind. He's such a game horse."
Third place finisher Nightmare Affair in the post parade. His jockey Edgar Prado said, "He broke good. We got a good spot in the middle of the back, and we got a good trip. He was full of run, but the horse in front of him kept on running."
Beaten favorite Henny Hughes crossed the finish line in last place. His trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "(Jockey John Velazquez) said he just didn't handle the track. Obviously, it had to be something like that but he never was into it. He said he just spun his wheels. You could see he just wasn't going anywhere. It has to be something like that. He's handled every other track, so it's kind of too bad, but this track can be like that. Churchill is a little different."
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