ARCADIA, Calif. -- It has been a year since Cost of Freedom won the Ancient Title Stakes, his last race before a medical odyssey kept him off the track for much of that time. He has had just one start in recent weeks, a fourth-place finish in his comeback as the 1-2 favorite in a restricted stakes at Del Mar. Yet his trainer, John Sadler, remains hopeful that Cost of Freedom can return to his past glory, and capture the Grade 1, $300,000 Ancient Title for the second straight year when it is run Sunday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
The six-furlong Ancient Title lacks a clear-cut favorite, but it is a compelling betting race. Atta Boy Roy brings his blazing speed from Washington, Supreme Summit and Crown of Thorns are coming off terrific comeback efforts at Del Mar, Gayego tuned up with a win at Belmont Park, and Square Eddie, one of the leading Derby prospects at the beginning of the year, is making his first start in nearly six months.
Whoever wins earns an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Nov. 7 through the Win and You're In program.
Cost of Freedom has won all three of his starts at Santa Anita. By drawing post 7 in a 10-horse field, Cost of Freedom can avoid the trouble that plagued him from the rail in his comeback on Sept. 9, Sadler hopes.
"He stumbled, and ended up on a dead rail," Sadler said Friday morning at Santa Anita. "Being off a year, it's hard to get a horse ready mentally. I thought I had him fit enough."
The race turned out to be live. Both the winner, Dancing in Silks, who won last week's California Cup Sprint, and Tangled Tango, who finished third, came out of the race to win their next start.
Sadler also entered Red Arrow, who like Cost of Freedom is owned by Gary and Cecil Barber, but Sadler was not sure if Red Arrow would also run.
Atta Boy Roy set a six-furlong track record at Emerald Downs in his last start when recording his third straight victory in sprints. He has wicked early speed, but he has never raced on a synthetic surface.
Supreme Summit and Crown of Thorns should move forward after finishing second and third in a highly rated second-level allowance at Del Mar on Sept. 9.
Crown of Thorns was making his first start in 19 months, and had some traffic trouble in a four-horse field.
"The last 50 yards I thought he really leveled off and looked like a good horse," his trainer, Richard Mandella, said Friday morning.