Mitole Likely to be Sixth Straight Sprint Champion
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
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.
Mitole, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr. for William and Corinne Heiligbrodt, is likely to become the sixth straight Eclipse Champion to come out of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner’ circle. Not only would he be the ninth in the last 10 years, but in the 35 previous runnings, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner has been named Eclipse Award Champion Sprinter 23 times.
Mitole had a huge 2019, with six wins in seven starts. As a three-year-old last year he won a maiden race, the Bachelor Stakes, and the Chick Lang Stakes before going to the sidelines. This year he reeled off wins in an allowance, the Count Fleet Sprint (G3) at Oaklawn Park, the Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs, and the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont. He rebounded from a third-place effort in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) to win the Forego (G1) at Saratoga.
That all led to the culmination of his career, a 1 ¼ length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. The stellar field included Shancelot, Whitmore, Engage, Hog Creek Hustle, and Catalina Cruiser. They cruised home in 1:09 flat for the six-furlong distance.
Two-time defending champion Roy H didn’t make the race this year; he was also named Eclipse champion in consecutive years. Before that, Drefong, Runhappy, and Work All Week all accomplished the double.
The first three horses to win Eclipse Champion Sprinter were the first three Breeders’ Cup Sprint winners: Eillo, Precisionist, and Smile. Groovy broke the trend when Very Subtle won the race in 1987, but Groovy got the award. Since then, Dancing Spree, Safely Kept, Sheikh Albadou, Thirty Slews, Desert Stormer, Elmhurst, Cajun Beat, Silver Train, Midnight Lute, Dancing in Silks, and Secret Circle were all historical winners at the Breeders’ Cup that did not receive the Eclipse. Mitole is a slam dunk this year to keep the trend of winners being honored alive.
Although the Breeders’ Cup is over, there is still plenty of racing action to follow through the end of the year. Play the best fall races with TVG.
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February Stakes on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse is First Automatic Qualifier for 2020 Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic
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