Imperial Hint Takes Shot at Big Time in Sprint
Courtesy the Thoroughbred Racing Dudes
Imperial Hint has flown under the radar for most of his career, but is ready to step onto the big stage soon in the Grade 1 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Del Mar on November 4. When it comes to this horse nothing is flashy until he steps onto the race track.
The dark bay 4-year-old colt by Imperialism out of Royal Hint has what obviously looks to be a modest pedigree. When you look at him in the flesh you can see that he was not exactly bred to be a champion. To put it bluntly he is very tiny, but do not let that fool you. This horse has a ton of talent, and maybe an even bigger heart.
Things started fast for Imperial Hint in his 3-year-old season as he debuted in a maiden special weight at Tampa Bay Downs where he won wire to wire by four and a quarter lengths. The win showed what he could do, and he backed up that solid showing with a listed stakes win at Tampa Bay Downs once again. From there it was on to tougher races, but the lightly raced colt was not quite ready for that kind of task.
After poor showings in both the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile and the Grade 2 Woody Stephens, it looked as if his career was heading into a bit of a tailspin, but he rebounded well off those efforts with a second place allowance finish at Monmouth Park and an allowance win at Parx. The rest of 2016 was filled with up and down moments as he took home two more allowance races at Parx, but failed in the Fabulous Strike Handicap at Penn National.
At the start of 2017, he was about as far under the radar as you could possibly get. However, that was about to change in a big way.
Imperial Hint kicked off the year at Laurel Park in the Fire Plug Stakes where he dominated rivals by three and a quarter lengths. You may be thinking “who cares about the Fire Plug Stakes,” but it is important to note that he defeated Chublicious in that race. He later went on to win the Grade 3 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash over a field that was fairly decent.
It was on to graded stakes action after that for Imperial Hint as his next start came at Laurel in the Grade 3 General George Stakes. It was more of the same as he blazed his way up front setting fast fractions, and refused to stop as he won by two and one quarter lengths. In this race he defeated solid runners such as Stallwalkin’ Dude, Ocean Knight, and Classy Class so he was starting to build a solid resume. He was also building the reputation of being fast — very fast!
With two nice wins under his belt it was time to leave the Mid-Atlantic and prove his talents elsewhere. Trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. chose Gulfstream Park and the Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes for his next start. Carvajal Jr. was also able to lure in top rider Javier Castellano, which could end up being a major factor heading into a major race like the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
The jockey and horse seemed to get along great as Castellano was able to get him to relax just a bit early on, and then Imperial Hint exploded down the stretch to take the race by four and three quarter lengths. Once again he was able to tackle better competition as he defeated the likes of Awesome Banner, Delta Bluesman, and Quijote. After this triumph Imperial Hint was no longer under the radar.
In his most recent effort in the Donald LeVine Memorial Stakes at Parx he faced very little competition, but absolutely dominated winning by six and three quarter lengths while nearly setting a track record under no urging whatsoever. When it comes to the Breeders’ Cup this horse looks loaded, and he should have plenty in the tank for what while be a major jump up in competition.
Speaking of competition — it all starts with defending Sprint champion Drefong, who is coming into the race off a dominating Grade 1 victory at Saratoga in the Forego Stakes. Baffert is training Drefong up the race just like he did last year after a big Saratoga triumph, and he has shown in the past that he is very dangerous when doing so. However, even Baffert himself has stated that Imperial Hint will be his main competition in the Breeders’ Cup. While Baffert was at Parx watching his horses Abel Tasman and West Coast run in the Grade 1 Cotillion and Pennsylvania Derby he went to see Imperial Hint, and was impressed with how well the horse was doing. A vote of confidence from Baffert goes an awfully long way.
Of course, many people are forgetting a horse who might have had the most impressive race for a sprinter all year long. That horse would be New York-based Mind Your Biscuits who traveled to Dubai in March and took home the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. Trainer Chad Summers is still extremely high on his colt by Posse, and has admitted that his horse was simply not ready to fire his best effort last time out in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes, when he finished sixth. He will be one to watch leading up to the race, but so far his workouts seem to suggest he is back to his old form which could be bad news for the rest of the field.
As you can see the Grade 1 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint is setting up to be one of the best races of the entire Breeders’ Cup. The Sprint will carry a purse of $1.5 million and will be contested on Saturday November 4th. The winner of this race will have certainly earned every bit of his winnings!
For more coverage of the 2017 Breeders' Cup, head over to racingdudes.com.
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