Most trainers with candidates for this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint have two dates, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, circled on their calendars. Nov. 4 is the date of the Breeders' Cup itself but Oct. 7 will be nearly as critical, with all three major prep races for the Sprint to be decided that afternoon, including the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park and the Grade 1 Ancient Title at Santa Anita. The third BC Sprint prep is the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland.
Henny Hughes and War Front, two of the top Sprint hopefuls based on the East Coast, are pointing toward the Vosburgh. Reigning Sprint champion Silver Train will also run in the Vosburgh, although trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. was non-committal when asked about the chances of his horse defending his Sprint title at Churchill Downs.
"Right now the only race I'm thinking about for Silver Train is the Vosburgh," said Dutrow. "He's never run well anywhere outside of New York, but I guess anything is possible at this point."
Silver Train is owned by the Four Roses Stable, as is his stablemate, Silver Wagon, who Dutrow said could earn his way into the Sprint with a big effort in the Phoenix.
"If Silver Wagon runs well at Keeneland there's a good chance he'll go to the Breeders' Cup, and at the moment I'd say it's probably more likely he'll run in the Sprint than Silver Train," said Dutrow.
Attila's Storm, fourth in the 2005 Sprint but idle since fracturing his right hind leg in the Palos Verdes on Jan. 26, will also try to earn his ticket back to the Breeders' Cup when he returns from a long layoff in the Phoenix.
On the West Coast, division leaders Bordonaro, Pure as Gold, and Too Much Bling are all expected to clash in the Ancient Title.
Pure as Gold snapped Bordonaro's four-race win streak with a half-length victory in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar on July 30. Too Much Bling, one of the top two 3-year-old candidates for the Sprint along with Henny Hughes, has not started since winning Calder's Grade 2 Carry Back on July 15.
Pomeroy, Dubai Escapade, and Siren Lure will not have another prep before the Breeders' Cup.
"The plan all along was to give him two races and train him into the Sprint," trainer Marty Wolfson said of Pomeroy, who registered an impressive 2 1/4-length victory over War Front in Saratoga's Grade 1 Forego Handicap on Sept. 2.
Trainer Eoin Harty said a decision on the status of Dubai Escapade, the leading female contender for the Sprint, will not be made for several weeks.
"Right now the Sprint remains a strong possibility, but I won't make any definite decisions until after I see what happens in the Vosburgh and Ancient Title," said Harty. "But if we do decide to run her in the Sprint she'll train into the race."
Dubai Escapade is coming off an 8 1/2-length victory in the Ballerina on Aug. 27 at Saratoga.