07/05/2012 4:24PM

Arlington Park: Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winners square off


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – The winners of the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Regally Ready and Chamberlain Bridge, face off Saturday at Arlington in the $100,000 Arlington Sprint, and both have questions to answer.

Chamberlain Bridge, who won the 2010 BC Turf Sprint, popped into form and captured the Bonapaw Stakes last December at Fair Grounds, but his three starts since have not been up to that standard. Meanwhile, Regally Ready, winner of the 2011 BC Sprint, is set to race for the first time since a pair of very disappointing performances in Dubai, where he finished 13th in the Meydan Sprint and 14th in the Al Quoz Sprint.

“He has a ton to answer for right now,” said Steve Asmussen, who trains Regally Ready for the Vinery Stable. “Those weren’t moderate races. Those were bad ones.”

The Regally Ready who raced in Dubai looked nothing like the horse who won five turf-sprint stakes in 2011.

“I have no idea what happened there,” Asmussen said. “It just didn’t suit him.”

Regally Ready got a short break after returning following the March 31 Al Quoz Sprint. Asmussen said he had hoped to use a Churchill Downs allowance race for a comeback, but when no such spot could be found, the Arlington Sprint became the plan.

“I didn’t want to ship him again, but it’s not too far, and we love the Arlington grass course,” said Asmussen.

Regally Ready drew the outside post in a field of six going five and one-half furlongs. The draw looks good for a horse with tactical speed, though Asmussen said post position “doesn’t matter when he’s on his game.”

Eight-year-old Chamberlain Bridge, who won the 2010 Arlington Sprint, continues to puzzle trainer Bret Calhoun, who can find no performance-compromising physical issues.

“He has definitely lost his consistency, and he just seems to do his thing when he wants to,” Calhoun said.

Birdie Beats Par and Saint Leon should provide the early pace. If the tempo gets too quick, longshot Longhunter might threaten. Making his second start for trainer Darrin Miller, Longhunter finished seventh on June 3 in a one-mile Churchill allowance race, but he was beaten less than two lengths. During the early phase of his career in Ireland, he ran well at sprint distances, including one instance where he beat Secretariat Stakes winner Treasure Beach by four lengths.

“I had this race in mind for this horse after he ran at Churchill,” said Miller.