Balmont Mast, a four-year-old son of Lynward Park Stud’s Balmont, has crushed comeback champ Starspangledbanner in his final prep for Saturday’s Group 1 $1.5 million US Breeders Cup Sprint (six furlongs) at Santa Anita in California.
Starspangledbanner was a 3/1 favourite for the Listed five furlong Mercury Stakes at Dundalk in Ireland last Friday but was soundly beaten by Balmont Mast, the 7/2 second pick, in course record time.
The highly-respected English Racing Post’s headline read: ‘Spangled Gets Mangled In Breeders Cup Prep.’
And went on to report:
‘The Breeders Cup Sprint-bound Starspangledbanner could finish no closer than a well-beaten fourth in the Mercury Stakes in his prep for next week’s Breeders Cup Sprint with the improving Balmont Mast winning for trainer Eddie Lynam and jockey Johnny Murtagh.
‘Prominent throughout on the wide outside, Starspangledbanner found little when asked to quicken by Joseph O’Brien.
‘Balmont Mast, however, who travelled in a similar position, albeit on the rail, quickened well when offered a gap, coming home in 57.35sec., a new course record.’
Trainer Aidan O’Brien remains bullish about Starspangledbanner’s US hopes.
“That was just what the doctor ordered,” said O’Brien. “That should leave him right for next weekend.”
Lynam also plans an international campaign for Balmont Mast.
“The plan is to go to Dubai,” he said. “But we could go to England first for the Listed Golden Rose Stakes at Lingfield on November 17.”
Starspangledbanner was the champion Australian sprinter in 2009-10 and the champion European, English and Irish sprinter in 2010. His wins include the Group 1 Royal Ascot Golden Jubilee Stakes, Group 1 English July Cup, Group 1 Caulfield Guineas and Group 1 Oakleigh Plate.
Balmont Mast was bred by Limestone Stud and Tara Stud in Ireland (Balmont stood at Tara Stud when on shuttle duties but is now resident at Lynward Park Stud).
He’s from Corn Futures, by Nomination, and is a half-brother to Crazee Mental, runner-up in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes, Group 2 Cherry Hinton Stakes, Group 3 Royal Ascot Queen Mary Stakes and Listed Summer Stakes and the dam of Premio Loco, the 2009 champion German miler.