Hog Creek Hustle Eyes Big Sprint Upset
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
The favorite is brilliant older horse Mitole, with Shancelot, Imperial Hint, and Catalina Cruiser vying for the win as well, but hoping to upset the field will be three-year-old Hog Creek Hustle. The son of Overanalyze was an 18-1 winner in the Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont Park on the Belmont Stakes undercard earlier this year, and will look to pull a similar shocker in the Sprint as he is 20-1 morning line. He missed by just a nose in the H Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga in August, rallying from eighth to split a three-horse photo finish, but then ran fifth at Keeneland behind fellow Breeders’ Cup contender Engage in the Ogden Phoenix (G2) in October. Vickie Foley trains, Mike Smith will be aboard for the first time, although he did gallop the horse on Wednesday.
Mitole will break from stall number four. Steve Asmussen trains the son of Eskendereya for Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt, who will have Ricardo Santana, Jr. aboard. He is nine for 13 lifetime with earnings over the $2 million mark and has won five of six starts in 2019. He has won three grade 1 races this year alone, including the Met Mile (g1) at Belmont Park, but has not won over this six-furlong distance since April.
Shancelot was undoubtedly brilliant in his first three starts, including a 12 ½ length romp in the grade 2 Amderstdam at Saratoga in July. He finished third in the Jerkens, beaten just two noses, and set a torrid pace in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) to just miss at the wire behind Dirt Mile favorite Omaha Beach. Jorge Navarro trains, Jose Ortiz will ride for the first time.
Catalina Cruiser is flying under the radar despite being seven for eight lifetime. His lone loss was the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile last year; he has won three straight races since. All of those were grade 2 competition. He is unbeaten at the distance, and this year alone defeated Breeders’ Cup entrants Giant Expectations (Dirt Mile) and Mongolian Groom (Classic). John Sadler trains for Hronis Racing.
Imperial Hint has a heart of gold, which was on display in the grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park when he looked defeated in the stretch but fought back on the rail to win. He has won his last two starts, including the grade 1 Vanderbilt over Mitole, and was third in the rich Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in March. Last year he finished third in this race, and second in 2017 at Del Mar. Imperial Hint, with 14 wins in 23 starst, is coming in off two straight bullet workouts.
Firenze Fire, Engage, Whitmore, and the Japanese shipper Matera Sky complete the field.
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As the national racing scene moves from a focus on the Breeders’ Cup to the fall and winter meets at Aqueduct and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, many of racing’s brightest stars are being retired or freshened for 2020 campaigns. One of those recently retired horses is Mitole, victorious in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last Saturday.