07/16/2009 11:00PM

A battle of Sovereign winners


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Champions Fatal Bullet and Not Bourbon will launch their 2009 campaigns Sunday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Bold Venture Stakes, and both appear to be cranked up for a big effort.

Fatal Bullet is Canada's reigning Horse of the Year and champion sprinter. He was nosed out of the Sovereign Award voting for champion 3-year-old by Not Bourbon, who won the $1 million Queen's Plate.

Fatal Bullet's coming out party came in the 2008 Bold Venture, in which he defeated older opposition while earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. After capturing two stakes south of the border in September, Fatal Bullet finished a bang-up second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.

Trainer Reade Baker said he intended on running Fatal Bullet back in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 at Santa Anita, before things went awry.

"He flew back to [Santa Anita] after being in Kentucky," Baker recalled. "I breezed him out there once, and he jarred himself up, so he had to miss the Malibu. We decided to pull the plug, and point him towards the Breeders' Cup. I don't know how we're going to get there, because some races are gone that used to be there. We'll worry about that after Sunday."

Baker said Fatal Bullet has trained encouragingly leading up to the 6 1/2-furlong Bold Venture.

"He's galloping and acting better than he ever has in his life," said Baker. "I think he's ready."

Not Bourbon, trained by Roger Attfield, capped a three-race win streak in last year's Queen's Plate. He has been idle since an authoritative score in the seven-furlong Overskate Stakes on Sept. 20.

"He had a little hairline [fracture] in his knee, and I just gave him a lot of time," said Attfield. "I gave him more time than most, but I wanted to make sure that everything was 100 percent."

Attfield said he doesn't think Not Bourbon will need a race before getting back into the swing of things. "He's been working great," Attfield said. "If he's not ready off of those works, I'm in trouble."

Should things pan out for Not Bourbon, Attfield said the ultimate goal for him is the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.