So, here’s a question for all to consider. Is there really such a thing as a slam dunk in the Breeders’ Cup?
Those familiar with these world championships in the Thoroughbred racing game understand the level of competition is indeed quite high. That means a skywalker can be hard to find for sure. As the best of the best from every division congregate at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky for this year’s event, the Turf Sprint might offer a leap from the free throw line.
Golden Pal is a real eye-catcher that might just be the get-out-of-the-way-smith Dr. Naismith dunk artist that delivers in 2022. Trained by Wesley Ward, this four-year-old son of Uncle Mo has been nothing short of a showman at Keeneland. Four lifetime starts here in the heart of horse country have yielded four authoritative victories.
“The Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is very good for Golden Pal”, says Ward. “He’s based here so he gets to walk out of his own stall right over to the track. It’s a home-court advantage for us for sure. You might say kind of like Michael Jordan at the United Center.”
This Florida-bred has been every bit an MJ when it comes to running in the United States. Since breaking his maiden at Saratoga in August of 2020, this grandson of Midshipman is unbeaten on American soil. Two unsuccessful ventures to England (York, Ascot) are sprinkled in among those eight wins. For those keeping a scorecard at home, two of those wins have come in Breeders’ Cup races as Ward’s pupil captured the 2020 Juvenile Turf Sprint at Keeneland and the 2021 Turf Sprint at Del Mar.
The key to a Cup threepeat for this Pal is very simple. He just needs to be his Golden self. Insanely fast out of the gate, his ability to carry that speed through the wire is quite incredible. Attempting to go with him early is normally like trying to guard Michael Jordan in the open floor. Those who try to close late have been posterized in the past on some rock the cradle behind the head rim-rattlers.
“I must say he really is something else”, says Ward, who has five career wins in the Breeders’ Cup. “Of course all of these Turf Sprint horses are fast, but few are able to break like he does. He’s a bit of a cocky horse but has been very easy to train and loves what he does. He seems to be hitting on all eight cylinders right now and we are looking forward to a shot at three straight in the Breeders’ Cup.”
The pass appears to be in the air and Jordan has taken flight. Will we see a circus-like slam at Keeneland?...Tune in November 5 and find out.