Cherokee Run was bred in Florida and it was there he did all his running as a 2-year-old winning five of seven starts from five furlongs to 1 mile 70 yards. Trained by Frank Alexander, he faced tougher company as a 3-year-old, winning a quick Derby Trial at a mile and then just missing in the Preakness Stakes by a half-length to Prairie Bayou. He was able to stretch his speed to win the 1 1/8 mile Grade 2 Dwyer, but it became evident his strength was shorter distances.
Cherokee Run was brilliant as a sprinter, but he didn’t need to be on the lead. In his run up to his win in the Sprint, he competed in seven graded stakes races, winning one and finishing in the top three in the rest. In a fourteen-horse field there is little room for error and while breaking from post position 11, Mike Smith rode a flawless race on the favorite to win by a breathtaking head over the filly Soviet Problem.