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ARCADIA, CA – When the right rein came loose early, jockey Flavien Prat was forced to put Dr. Schivel into the race early, but the unforeseen dilemma paid off handsomely as he won Saturday’s $200,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G2).
The Santa Anita Sprint Championship is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Dr. Schivel receiving an automatic berth in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar this November.
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Dr. Schivel was the 9/5 favorite when breaking from the rail and initially looked like he would make his customary move to the back and watch, but the right rein came loose shortly after the race began.
“I had just the left rein after we left the chute at around the 5 1/2-furlong mark,” Prat said. “It was kind of scary. That had never hapened to me before.”
With Vertical Threat breaking immediately to his outside and going to the lead, Prat made a split-second decision to squeeze up the inside before his rival closed off the hole.
After opening fractions of :21.87 and :45.07, Dr. Schivel ranged up to take sole command off the far turn and quickly drew off at the top of the stretch.
The Mark Glatt trainee increased his advantage until late, when Prat let him coast home a 3 1/4-length victor while completing the 6-furlong fast dirt sprint in 1:09.44.
“The horse was very proficient,” Prat said. “Everything was normal otherwise. I let (the other jockeys) know that I only had the one rein and to stay out of the way. Everything worked out great and we got home safely.”
Flagstaff finished second for the second straight year, though this time he was a nose better than defending champion C Z Rocket, who was slow from the gate and trailed early before rallying for third.
Colt Fiction, Collusion Illusion, and Vertical Threat completed the order of finish.
Dr. Schivel’s win was his fifth straight dating back to August 2020 and followed his first Grade 1 score in the Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar, another “Win and You’re In” for the Sprint. The 3-year-old Violence colt improved his record to 7-5-1-1 with $536,000 earned for co-owners William Branch (who also co-bred him with Arnold Hill), Red Baron’s Barn, Rancho Temescal, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
“This is something else,” said Branch, who also bred and campaigned Dr. Schivel’s dam (Lil Nugget) and older siblings; Dr. Schivel is the family’s only stakes winner. “I’ve never had a horse like this. It’s like losing at the craps table all day and then going on a 3-hour roll. He’s ready for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Dr. Schivel returned $5.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.20 to show. Flagstaff brought back $4.20 to place and $2.60 to show. C Z Rocket paid $2.40 to show.
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