The two most important prep races for the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint will take place on opposite coasts Saturday afternoon. One of those preps is a wide-open Grade 1 race featuring as many as a half-dozen potential candidates for the BC Sprint. The second is an ungraded event offering a mere $100,000 purse that figures to be about as competitive as this week's Monday night drubbing the Denver Broncos gave the Kansas City Chiefs.
But even though Belmont Park's $500,000 Vosburgh is unquestionably the better of Saturday's two Sprint preps, it will be the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap that figures to draw the most attention because of the presence of the undefeated 3-year-old sensation Lost in the Fog.
The six-furlong Bay Meadows Speed Handicap drew a field of seven, although it is unlikely everybody who entered will actually challenge the imposing Lost in the Fog.
"There are some credible horses in the race, and we're certainly not taking it lightly," said Lost in the Fog's trainer Greg Gilchrist. "Actually, I wasn't particularly happy with the way my horse breezed the other day. He worked a lot faster than I'd have liked, but he seems to have come out of it okay."
Gilchrist said the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap is a much better alternative for Lost in the Fog's final Breeders' Cup prep than either the Vosburgh or Santa Anita's Ancient Title Handicap the following weekend.
"I've only run in one Breeders' Cup," - Soviet Problem, second in the 1994 Sprint - "but I've watched them all, and I've learned that it's better to be coming in with a fresh horse than one who has been over-trained or over-raced," said Gilchrist. "The race at Bay Meadows is worth a lot less money than the Vosburgh or Ancient Title, but it's the right thing to do by the horse to stay home rather than van him eight hours to Santa Anita or fly him 12 hours to New York to run in what logic tells you would be much tougher races."
The field for the Vosburgh is deep and talented and was expected to include such potential Breeders' Cup Sprint candidates as Woke Up Dreamin, Pomeroy, Unfurl the Flag, Silver Wagon, Taste of Paradise, I'm the Tiger, and Mass Media.
The Vosburgh will be the first start for Woke Up Dreamin since his victory in Calder's Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap on July 10.
"We chose the Vosburgh over the Ancient Title because he likes it better in New York," said trainer Bob Baffert. "He had a quarter crack coming out of the True North, he ran with it in Florida, and I just brought him back here after the race to give him a break. He's a heavy horse and he's going to need a race, but the Vosburgh will set him up for the Breeders' Cup. I'll leave him in New York and then we'll have a month to fine-tune him."
Silver Wagon is one of two horses Buckram Oak Farm is hoping to run in the BC Sprint, along with the lightly raced 3-year-old Silver Train. Silver Wagon finished third behind Mass Media in the Grade 1 Forego after missing a couple of scheduled starts earlier this summer while battling a nagging foot problem.
Silver Train has not started since registering an easy victory over High Fly in the Jerome and will not have another prep before the Breeders' Cup, according to Mohammed Moubarak, Buckram Oak's stable manager.
"Silver Train seems to run best when his races are spaced apart," Moubarak said. "As for Silver Wagon, six furlongs is really not his best distance but he's doing well and we figured he deserved a chance to earn a spot in the Breeders' Cup with a big effort in the Vosburgh."
- additional reporting by Jay Privman