10/06/2005 11:00PM

Battle Won in final prep

Battle Won, winning the Churchill Downs 'Cap, is a big favorite in Sunday's Woodford.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - When racing fans think about final preps for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, they probably think Vosburgh or Ancient Title or Phoenix. Hardly anyone, except Chuck Simon, thinks of the Woodford County Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong grass race to be run Sunday on the Spinster undercard at Keeneland.

"It's unconventional, yes," said Simon, who will send out Battle Won as a huge favorite in the $100,000 Woodford County. "But it seems like the best plan to get him to New York."

, the No. 1-ranked candidate for the BC Sprint, according to Daily Racing Form national handicapper Mike Watchmaker, already is proven among older sprinters. He won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on the Kentucky Derby undercard, then was all over the map to finish second in his next three starts: the Grade 3 Aristides at Churchill, the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar, and the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga.

Simon, a Saratoga native who served a five-year stint as an assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, noted that Battle Won likes turf racing. A 5-year-old gelding, Battle Won captured the Woodford County last year. "Plus, I love the fact we're shortening up right before the big race," Simon said. "No matter who's in the Breeders' Cup, they'll go the first quarter in 21-and-change and the half in 44. Coming out of a 5 1/2-furlong race, turf or dirt, he should be about as sharp as I can get him."

Battle Won drew post 3 and will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez in the Woodford County, formerly known as the Nureyev. His top challengers in the full field of 12 could be Del Mar Show, Atticus Kristy, and Sgt. Bert.

Looking ahead to the Breeders' Cup, Simon is well aware that unbeaten Lost in the Fog is the horse to beat in the Sprint.

"He's a great horse, no doubt," said Simon. "But I think the one thing people are overlooking is he's had such a long, demanding campaign. He's shipped all over the place, and he's run fast. Even though he's made it look easy, a horse runs really hard when they go as fast as he does. But he is a great horse. Just because he hasn't beaten top horses, that's not his fault. He'll get his chance soon enough."