ARCADIA, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2016) – Seltzer Thoroughbreds’ Finest City ($19.40) fought off a late bid by defending race champion Wavell Avenue by three-quarters of a length to win the 10th running of the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Saturdayafternoon at Santa Anita Park.
Trained by Ian Kruljac and ridden by Mike Smith, Finest City covered the seven furlongs on a fast main track in 1:22.37. It is the first Breeders’ Cup victory for Kruljac and the 24thfor Smith, the all-time winningest rider in World Championships history.
For Smith, it was his second victory of these Championships and second in the Filly & Mare Sprint, having won in 2014 with Judy the Beauty.
Finest City is a 4-year-old Pennsylvania-bred daughter of City Zip who was winning for the first time in six starts on the main track at Santa Anita.
BREEDERS’ CUP FILLY AND MARE SPRINT QUOTES
Winning jockey Mike Smith (Finest City) – “I was really happy for the trainer (Ian Kruljac) and his first big opportunity. What a way for you to get your career going. The old handicapping angle of ‘turf to dirt’ and a long turf race to a middle distance sprint is really a good way to get a horse ready for a race like this. They learn to relax a little better and it’s easier on them.”
Winning trainer Ian Kruljac (Finest City) – “She sends herself out of there and Mike chose not to take her back and it was absolutely perfect. She has high cruising speed and I could tell he was in hand. It is just such an honor to compete with all these top trainers and have a top filly.”
Second-place jockey Joel Rosario (Wavell Avenue) – “She ran huge. I thought I was going to go by Mike (Smith) for a minute, but she was second best today.”
Second-place trainer Chad Brown (Wavell Avenue) – “She ran huge. She showed she’s a real Grade 1 performer and last year was no fluke. She’s a real good horse, especially in the fall. I’m proud of her effort. She was just second best.”
Third-place jockey Joe Talamo (Paulssilverlining) – “She ran a heck of a race. We were laying right with the winner (Finest City) the whole way. She had a very good clean trip and I was very glad to finish in the top three.”
Third-place trainer Michelle Nevin (Paulssilverlining) – “I expected her to run well today and she did. Joe (Talamo) told me after the race that if she hadn’t been pressed and had a chance to give her a little breather, then she would have run even better. I don’t know if she would have won. I was pleased with her performance.”
Ninth-place trainer Bill Mott (Carina Mia, favorite) – “It’s a head scratcher.”
Breeders’ Cup and Santa Anita Park