10/24/2005 11:00PM

BC Sprint: Gygistar has home-field edge

Six-year-old Gygistar works Monday at Belmont, his favorite track. He has won 5 of 8 starts there, including four graded stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The home-field advantage in football or basketball is generally considered to be worth at least a couple of points. But is there such a thing as a home-field advantage in horse racing? And if so, how much would it be worth?

Trainer Mark Hennig definitely feels he has got the home-field edge in this year's Breeders' Cup Sprint with Gygistar, who has won 5 of his 8 starts at Belmont Park, including four graded stakes.

"He really likes Belmont Park, he's always been happy and run well here," Hennig said. "Going six furlongs, I wouldn't have been looking to take him out of town for the Sprint, but around these sweeping turns and with him doing so well it's worth taking the shot over your home course."

Gygistar, 6, is the co-elder statesman in the Sprint, along with Taste of Paradise. But despite his advancing years and old infirmities he has held his form remarkably well this season, winning three of six starts, including the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap in which he earned a lifetime best 115 Beyer Speed Figure. He comes into the Breeders' Cup off an easy four-length optional-claiming win at a mile here on Sept. 23.

"We've pretty much been thinking about the Sprint since that race in September, which turned out to be a pretty good confidence-builder for him," said Hennig. "He came out of that race thinking he was King Kong, and he's always run his best races when he is high on himself like that."

Gygistar appeared very sharp working four furlongs in 47.06 seconds on Monday.

"He looked good," said Hennig. "The old man was really reaching out, wanting to do more, and finished up strong. The Sprint looks like a pretty wide-open race once you get past Lost in the Fog. Hopefully he'll show some kind of vulnerability and we can get a little lucky picking our way through traffic."

Meanwhile, trainer Dick Dutrow said Tuesday that Silver Train likely would start in the Sprint. Dutrow was concerned about a possible hind-end problem for Silver Train after the 3-year-old returned from a bullet five-furlong work at Aqueduct on Monday.

"I think we're going to be okay," Dutrow said late Tuesday morning. "The exercise rider said he slipped in behind" - lost his footing in the hind end - "one time while breezing, but he's done it before and he seems to have come out of the work the right way. I can't find anything wrong with his hind end, and I feel pretty good about things today."

* Trainer Greg Gilchrist canceled Lost in the Fog's scheduled gallop on Tuesday because of adverse weather conditions. Lost in the Fog was expected to gallop Wednesday instead.