10/04/2005 11:00PM

BC Sprint: Californian Taste of Paradise becomes of a part of it in New York


Last weekend's two important Breeders' Cup Sprint preps left little change atop the division but helped create a major shake up among many of the other leading contenders pointing to the Sprint at Belmont on Oct. 29.

As expected, Lost in the Fog dominated the Bay Meadows Speed Handicap to remain undefeated and solidify his role as the heavy favorite for the Sprint.

But it was Taste of Paradise's unexpected victory and the poor performances by Pomeroy and Woke Up Dreamin in Belmont's Grade 1 Vosburgh that could have a profound effect on the final make-up of the Sprint lineup.

Southern California-based Taste of Paradise turned in the race of his life in his first start over the Belmont strip in the Vosburgh, rallying from the rear of the pack to a convincing two-length victory over Tiger Heart and Lion Tamer. The performance earned Taste of Paradise a career-best 110 Beyer Speed Figure.

"I'm most encouraged by the fact he took to the track over which the Breeders' Cup will be decided and ran the best race of his career," said Gary Mandella, who trains Taste of Paradise for owner David Bloom. "I guess he might have been in the wrong state his whole life. I'm really proud of my horse. Hopefully we can get a little help with the pace in the Breeders' Cup and get lucky one more time."

Tiger Heart, Lion Tamer, and Pomeroy, who broke slowly and finished eighth in the Vosburgh, are all likely to go on to the Sprint. Silver Wagon, who finished fourth in the Vosburgh, will be pointed for the seven-furlong Sport Page Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard.

Woke Up Dreamin, among the nation's premier sprinters this year, aggravated a foot injury while finishing ninth in the Vosburgh and has been retired. Greg's Gold, winner of the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap in July, was also taken out of consideration for the Sprint last week because of a knee injury that will keep him sidelined until next season.

The final two major preps for the Sprint are Saturday, the Grade 1 Ancient Title Handicap at Santa Anita and the $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup at Keeneland. The Ancient Title is expected to draw small field that could include such potential Breeders' Cup candidates as Bilo, Bear in the Woods, Captain Squire, Gotaghostofachance, McCann's Mojave, and Zanzibar.

One likely sprint candidate not racing in either of the two preps is Battle Won, who has finished second in each of his last three starts, including the Grade 1 Forego and Grade 1 Bing Crosby handicaps. Trainer Chuck Simon has instead chosen Sunday's 5 1/2-furlong Woodford County Stakes over the Keeneland turf for Battle Won's final start before the Breeders' Cup.

"He's been in a war his last four races, and I'm just looking for a little easier spot," Simon explained. "He likes the grass a lot, and 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf should take a lot less out of him than had I run in the Vosburgh or gone into the Phoenix Breeders' Cup."

Sprint Contenders
3-year-olds & up, 6 furlongs. Purse: $1 million.

1Battle WonC. Simon6-1
Preps on turf Sunday; note the last time he won, he went turf to dirt
2Lost in the FogG. GilchristEven
As light as this race is coming up this year, he has never met this kind
3Taste of ParadiseG. Mandella10-1
Showed a definite liking for Belmont in his Vosburgh upset; that helps
4Lion TamerT. Pletcher8-1
Fast-closing third in Vosburgh off four-month layoff; eligible to improve
5Silver TrainR. Dutrow Jr.15-1
Won Jerome in fast time; must respect everything this barn sends out
6ImperialismK. Mulhall12-1
Best as a closing sprinter, but will have to come from way back here
7PomeroyP. Biancone8-1
Showed no zip in Vosburgh after sluggish start; does best at Saratoga
8Mass MediaR. Frankel20-1
Failed to validate his Forego upset with his meek sixth in the Vosburgh
9Wildcat HeirB. W. Perkins Jr.15-1
Scheduled to work Friday; it's fair to wonder how he'll be ready in time
10Estate CollectionD. O'Neill20-1
Ky. Cup Sprint win made him 3 for 3, but he must improve to contend
The top 10 contenders for each of the eight Breeders' Cup races are ranked by Mike Watchmaker, who set the odds and wrote the comments. Actual Breeders' Cup fields will have up to 14 starters.