ETOBICOKE, Ontario -- Bridgetown returns to Woodbine on Saturday in the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, and the rapid 3-year-old should be prominent throughout the six-furlong turf sprint. Along with first money, the winner of the Grade 1 event will receive an automatic berth in the Nov. 6 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs.
Bridgetown captured the Grade 3 Summer Stakes here last fall, before ending up second as the pacemaker in the Grade 2 BC Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita. He went to the sidelines for nine months after ending up fourth in the Grade 3 Generous Stakes in November at Hollywood.
Bridgetown has won both his starts at 5 1/2 furlongs this summer. He took the Latham Stakes from off the pace at Saratoga, and the Gilded Time Stakes on the lead at Monmouth.
Trainer Ken McPeek said Bridgetown has trained encouragingly leading up to the Nearctic, and he's hoping to use the race as a springboard to the BC Turf Sprint.
"He had a nice breeze [last Sunday]," said McPeek. "He's good to go. He's a very fast horse, very talented."
Fatal Bullet, Canada's Horse of the Year and champion sprinter in 2008, competed on the grass for just the second time in his career Aug. 29, when he finished a close third in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes.
Trainer Reade Baker said the Grade 2 BC Turf Sprint will be on Fatal Bullet's agenda if he performs well Saturday.
"I've never cranked him up to go five-eighths," said Baker. "It will be fun doing that."
Reigning Canadian champion sprinter Field Commission, last year's Nearctic winner, is winless in six starts this year. He was in good form prior to finishing seventh in his last race in the Play the King, a substandard effort which led to minor throat surgery, according to trainer Danny Vella.
"When he came back, he indicated that he'd flipped his palate," Vella said. "We did that small procedure, so he wouldn't do it again."
Grand Adventure is shortening up off an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.
"He was a little rank last time out," said trainer Mark Frostad. "He had been off for quite a while, and I think that cost him. He's always had lots of speed."
Of the three European invaders in the field, Balthazaar's Gift is the most accomplished. He won the Group 2 Park Stakes over seven furlongs under 130 pounds in his last outing in England.