Breeders’ Cup Sprint favorite Vekoma scratched out of the $2 million race on Wednesday after spiking a fever late Tuesday night. That likely ends his career and sends him to the breeding shed earlier than expected.
“Vekoma did not train. He spiked a fever last night. He got treated,” trainer George Weaver told the Breeders’ Cup. “It doesn’t look like he’s going to get to run. He’s good. We treated him. He’s comfortable, stable, and happy.”
Vekoma was your 3/1 morning line favorite in the six-furlong Sprint. You could find him at 7/2 on foreign futures boards. This was a byproduct of his back-to-back Grade 1 victories this summer at the Carter Handicap and the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park.
Those represented two of Vekoma’s three 2020 victories. He opened his season by winning the Sir Shackleton at Gulfstream Park after a nearly 11-month layoff. Vekoma’s 3-for-3 record this year established him as one of North America’s best sprinters.
Vekoma Would Be Favored in Two Breeders’ Cup Races
It also gave his connections enviable options. Before committing to the Sprint, Weaver considered entering Vekoma in the Dirt Mile – a one-turn mile just like the Met. Vekoma’s 110 Beyer Speed Figure from the Carter represented the best Beyer in either race. His 113 Brisnet from the same race led both fields in that speed figure category.
Vekoma took two months off after his Met Mile win. He returned to the track making weekly breezes in September. Vekoma made a statement in October with two bullet workouts over the past two weeks at Saratoga’s Oklahoma practice track.
“We kind of thought it was his destiny to win this race and put the crown on what has already been a great year,” Weaver said. “He’s a very special horse. I’m lucky I’ve had the chance to train him. We’re going to take good care of the horse. That’s all we can do.”
Long Live the New Favorite — Unbeaten Yaupon
Now, the favorite crown passes to Yaupon, who opened at 7/2 on the morning line. One of the most exciting young sprinters in the country, Yaupon hasn’t lost a race in 2020. He’s also led at every call in his last three races, but the 3-year-old colt jumps into the Grade 1 pool for the first time.
As for Vekoma, he’s recuperating a mere 13 miles from Spendthrift Farm, his retirement home as a stallion. Weaver did not rule out another race for the 4-year-old Candy Ride colt, but said that will be up to Spendthrift Farm. With the prestige of the Breeders’ Cup off the table, it’s likely Vekoma’s stirring Met Mile victory was his last ride.