07/26/2007 11:00PM

Battle Won's form tops in Bing Crosby


DEL MAR, Calif. - The California sprint division is so happily jumbled that even Battle Won, winless in two years, has a fighting chance Sunday in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar.

Don't laugh.

"This is the race he is going to win, if he is ever going to win a race," trainer Mike Mitchell said, without hiding his frustration.

Battle Won has lost 12 straight starts against the best of the division, even while finishing in the money eight times.

Battle Won, however, enters the $300,000 six-furlong Bing Crosby with a key attribute -sharp recent stakes form - that is lacking from Grade 1 winners Bordonaro, Greg's Gold and Declan's Moon. Battle Won enters off a good third-place comeback in the Grade 1 Triple Bend Handicap three weeks ago at Hollywood Park. He will be ridden by Michael Baze from the outside post 9.

"I've got a great post, a fresh horse, and Michael is doing everything right," Mitchell said. "If he's peaking, it is going to be Sunday."

Owned by Jay and Gretchen Manoogian, Battle Won has won 7 of 28 and is adding blinkers "to make him more focused," Mitchell said.

Nine entered the Bing Crosby, in which 120-pound highweight Bordonaro and Greg's Gold seek to rebound from disappointing races. Bordonaro finished seventh at even-money in the Grade 2 True North June 9 at Belmont Park after he was carried out by a horse that blew the turn. Greg's Gold also had trouble while finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Aristides on June 2 at Churchill Downs.

Also in the Bing Crosby is Declan's Moon, the 2004 juvenile champion who won a five-horse allowance last out but has not earned a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure in nearly three years. Unbeaten 3-year-old E Z Warrior meets older while returning from a six-month layoff. Northern Soldier, Corazondelcampeon, In Summation, and Gotaghostofachance also are entered.

Bordonaro finished second in a controversial Bing Crosby last year, losing by a half-length after being struck by the whip of the rider of the winner. He subsequently won the Grade 1 Ancient Title, and then lost 3 of his next 4 starts with declining speed figures.

"I know his numbers aren't quite the same, but he doesn't know it," trainer Bill Spawr said. Bordonaro, 10 for 16, was further compromised by the draw. He is buried in post 2, and Spawr admits Bordonaro "looks like he doesn't have the same speed" as last year.

If Bordonaro is slower by the numbers, this year it might not matter. The winning Beyer in the Bing Crosby typically exceeds 110 but none of the entrants Sunday recently has earned a number that high.

That is one reason why handicappers will consider the 3-year-old E Z Warrior, who is racing for the first time since winning the San Miguel Stakes in January. Trained by Bob Baffert, E Z Warrior's career-high 97 Beyer falls well short of par. However, good 3-year-old sprinters can improve 6 to 10 Beyer points from January to late July.

Other recent San Miguel winners who became top sprinters later in the year include Too Much Bling, Swept Overboard, and Honour and Glory. It is premature to put E Z Warrior in that category, but Baffert's optimistic placement of E Z Warrior in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby is a sure indication the colt is ready to fire.

Greg's Gold won the Bing Crosby in 2005, but after a clever win in his allowance-race comeback, he has slipped. He finished a dull fourth, with a compromised trip, in his last start. Asked if Greg's Gold was as good as he was in 2005, trainer David Hofmans said: "I don't know that; we'll find out Sunday."

In Summation looms the knockout. A graded-stakes-caliber turf sprinter, he is racing on Polytrack for the first time. A six-time winner, he ships in for trainer Christophe Clement to race over a synthetic surface on which turf horses frequently reproduce their best form.

Regardless of which horse wins, the 2007 Bing Crosby should be one of the slowest in history. Based on final times the first week and a half of the Del Mar Polytrack meet, the six-furlong race is likely to be run in about 1:11.