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3/1 Favorite Vekoma OUT of Sprint
Vekoma winning the Met Mile (Credit: NYRA)

3/1 Favorite Vekoma OUT of Sprint

Trainer George Weaver’s Vekoma, a talented runner who captured multiple Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series events earlier this year, reportedly spiked a temperature and has scratched from the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Keeneland on Saturday, November 7, where he had drawn the far outside post 14 and was named the 3/1 morning line favorite.

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Vekoma won 3 of his first 4 starts including the 2019 Blue Grass Stakes (G2), a 1 1/8-mile local prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1), before crossing the wire 13th in the Run for the Roses. Away for almost 11 months, the Candy Ride colt cut back to one-turn races for 2020 and took the world by storm. He easily won the Sir Shackleton Stakes in his seasonal debut, then championed both the Carter Handicap (G1) and the Met Mile (G1) to earn spots in both the Sprint and the Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile (G1). Lasting Legacy, who was claimed for $80k out of his most recent start, now makes the field from the Also Eligibles list and will wear the 15 saddlecloth. His morning line odds are 30/1.

A pair of rivals share co-second place honors on the morning line at 7/2, starting with #2 C Z Rocket. He went 23 months without a victory, but since trainer Peter Miller claimed him for $40,000 this past April, he has won all 5 starts, including the Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) 2 starts back and the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2) last time out. Sandwiched in the middle of that streak is a 6 1/2-furlong victory over the local dirt that saw him establish a new track record time (1:15 flat).

Just as equally impressive as that streak is the one that the similarly-priced #10 Yaupon has enjoyed. Though it took him until this past June to debut, the 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt has been a clear victor in all 4 career starts, including the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) and the Chick Lang Stakes (G3) in his 2 most recent tries, and knows only one way to race: run everyone off their feet early.

Yaupon’s Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won this event last year in 2019 with Mitole, but 1 of his rivals here is stablemate Echo Town, who drew the rail and was made a 20/1 longshot. Echo Town was a rallying 3 1/2-length victory of the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) in August and was most recently third in the local Phoenix Stakes (G2) behind a pair of familiar foes who also return here.

The Phoenix winner Diamond Oops was not necessarily rewarded for choosing to run here instead of in the Turf Sprint; after drawing post 11, he was given 8/1 odds on the morning line despite his 3/4-length victory over this very course and distance last month. The Patrick Biancone trainee will try greatly improving upon his eighth-place finish in the 2019 Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile (G1).

Sandwiched between Diamond Oops and Echo Town in the Phoenix was Empire of Gold, who despite running a career-best effort last time out was made the co-longest shot on the morning line at 30/1. A 3-year-old son of 2-time Dirt Mile champion Goldencents, Empire of Gold will mark the first Breeders’ Cup start for both jockey Declan Carroll and trainer/co-owner Terry Eoff when he exits post 9.

Despite also pre-entering her in the 7-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott entered the 3-year-old filly Frank’s Rockette against the boys in this spot, opting for what he believes to be her more optimal distance. The Frank Fletcher homebred has yet to miss the exacta in 10 career starts and extended her current win streak to 4 by comfortably defeating elders for the first time in the Gallant Bloom Handicap (G2) last time out. She drew post 6 and has 10/1 morning line odds.

Rounding out the field are Mark Glatt’s #3 Collusion Illusion (20/1), who suffered his first one-turn defeat in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship last time out; #4 Bon Raison (30/1) for Jack Sisterson and #5 Manny Wah (30/1) for Wayne Catalano, who were separated by a nose last time out; 10-time sprint stakes champion #7 Whitmore (15/1) for Ron Moquett; recent Vosburgh Stakes (G2) victor #8 Firenze Fire (8/1) for Kelly Breen; 2019 Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) winner #12 Hog Creek Hustle (30/1) for Vickie Foley; and Japan’s multiple stakes winner #13 Jasper Prince (30/1) for trainer Hideyuki Mori.

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Here is the full field for the $1 million Sprint:

1Echo TownRicardo Santana Jr.Steve Asmussen20/1
2C Z RocketLuis SaezPeter Miller7/2
3Collusion IllusionFlavien PratMark Glatt20/1
4Bon RaisonAdam BeschizzaJack Sisterson30/1
5Manny WahTyler GaffalioneWayne Catalano30/1
6Frank's RocketteManny FrancoBill Mott10/1
7WhitmoreIrad Ortiz Jr.Ron Moquett15/1
8Firenze FireJose LezcanoKelly Breen8/1
9Empire of GoldDeclan CarrollTerry Eoff30/1
10YauponJoel RosarioSteve Asmussen7/2
11Diamond OopsFlorent GerouxPatrick Biancone8/1
12Hog Creek HustleCorey LanerieVickie Foley30/1
13Jasper PrinceJose OrtizHideyuki Mori30/1
14VekomaJavier CastellanoGeorge Weaver3/1
15Lasting LegacyBrian Hernandez Jr.Bob Hess Jr.30/1

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