Updated on 09/16/2011 8:17AM

Aldebaran's task is catching Bonapaw

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Aldebaran, winner of the Nassau Handicap last October (left), has run second in his last four starts. Trainer Bobby Frankel entered him in Saturday's Vosburgh as a prep for the B.C. Sprint.

ELMONT, N.Y. - As a Grade 1 race with a $300,000 purse, the Vosburgh is certainly an important race for a horse to win. As a prep for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, however, a Vosburgh victory is not so imperative.

Only one Vosburgh winner - Artax in 1999 - has come back to win the Sprint. Ten other Vosburgh winners have tried and failed. Still, the Vosburgh has produced its share of Sprint winners, including Gulch, Dancing Spree, Cherokee Run, and last year, Squirtle Squirt, who finished second to Left Bank in the Vosburgh.

Bobby Frankel, who trained Squirtle Squirt, will again try to use the Vosburgh as a springboard to Breeders' Cup success when he sends out Aldebaran against five rivals in Saturday's 63rd renewal of the seven-furlong Vosburgh at Belmont Park.

The Vosburgh highlights a 10-race card that also includes the $100,000 Noble Damsel for fillies and mares on turf, and the $75,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York breds on turf.

Aldebaran must shake off a chronic case of seconditis and catch a seemingly loose-on-the-lead Bonapaw if he is to earn his first graded stakes victory. A 4-year-old son of Mr. Prospector, Aldebaran has finished second in his last four races, including the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap here in May and the Grade 1 Forego Handicap three weeks ago at Saratoga.

In his defense, Aldebaran has caught horses such as Orientate, Swept Overboard, and Voodoo on their best days. Swept Overboard earned a 122 Beyer Speed Figure in beating Aldebaran in the Met Mile. Orientate, the top sprinter in training, was magnificent in the Forego, and Voodoo ran the best race of his career when defeating Aldebaran in a third-level allowance on Aug. 3.

"Swept Overboard freaked out on him, and Orientate ran the best race of his life the other day," Frankel said. "Circumstances."

Circumstances could play against Aldebaran again on Saturday. As a closer, Aldebaran needs a speed duel to develop in front of him. It appears unlikely that will happen on Saturday.

Bonapaw, a multiple stakes winner, looms the controlling speed under Gerard Melancon. He is coming off two front-running victories at Arlington Park, including a 2 1/4-length victory in the Hanshin Handicap at a mile. In his only try at seven furlongs, Bonapaw was beaten one-half length by Alannan in last year's Churchill Downs Handicap.

"I have no problem going seven-eighths," said trainer Norman Miller, whose gelding drew post 4. "He's just a super horse right now. He's on top of his game more than he's ever been. I'm not going to stand here and tell you we're going to win it - I've been training 25 years so I'm not crazy enough to do that - but I've been waiting 47 years for this horse."

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who finished third in last year's Vosburgh with Big E E, will send out both Voodoo and Multiple Choice on Saturday. Running with blinkers for the first time, Voodoo made all the pace winning a seven-furlong allowance race at Saratoga last out.

"As it turned out, there was a lot of speed in that race and they decided to take it easy and he ended up on the lead by himself," said Jerkens, who doesn't expect his horse to go head and head with Bonapaw. "If [Bonapaw] stubs his toes at the break and we end up being on the lead that'll be fine."

Multiple Choice comes out of a third-place finish behind Orientate and Aldebaran in the Forego. He is 2 for 3 at Belmont and could get first run on Aldebaran under Edgar Prado.

Wild Summer may have the best chance of pulling an upset. Wild Summer looked good coming from off the pace to win a pair of Saratoga allowance sprints.

"I got to give it a shot, my horse is doing good," trainer Billy Badgett said. "I thought he was maybe a Grade 3 type of horse, but since we dropped back in distance it's really made a big difference."

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