by J. Keeler Johnson
The connections of Painting Corners have to be pleased by the recent confirmation that the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita will be held over five furlongs. After all, Painting Corners is turning into a five-furlong sprint specialist, as she demonstrated with her victory in Saturday’s $85,000 Daisycutter Handicap at Del Mar.
Breaking alertly from post 3, Painting Corner showed speed from the start, but was content to track the pace in second as Kentan Road sprinted to the lead through an opening quarter mile in :22.48 over a turf course labeled “firm.” Favored S Y Sky settled a length behind Painting Corners as part of a threesome vying for third place.
Rounding the turn, Painting Corners edged closer to Kentan Road, and entering the stretch jockey Flavien Prat encouraged Painting Corners to take command. The five-year-old daughter of Pleasant Strike responded gamely, rallying past the pacesetter before tenaciously holding off a late bid from S Y Sky to prevail by three-quarters of a length in :56.21.
S Y Sky had difficulty finding racing room late in the race, prompting jockey Drayden Van Dyke to lodge an objection against the winner for drifting out down the lane. But following a review by the stewards, the incident was dismissed, and S Y Sky had to settle for second place by a half-length over Just Grazed Me.
Owned by the partnership of Altamira Racing Stable and Slam Dunk Racing, Painting Corners boosted her career record to seven wins from 20 starts, with earnings of $319,338. Perhaps more significantly, the Florida-bred mare is now four-for-eight sprinting five furlongs on turf, which includes a victory in the Mizdirection Stakes over the same course and distance as the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Whether Painting Corners pursues a start in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is another question, though considering Peter Miller has won the last two editions of the race, Painting Corners could well be a legitimate contender if she continues to improve throughout the summer and fall.