01/26/2006 12:00AM

Bordonaro figures to be tough to catch

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Led by the wickedly fast Bordonaro, a powerful group of California-bred runners is invading south Florida for the $300,000 , a six-furlong race that kicks off the Gulfstream Park portion of the Sunshine Millions on Saturday.

Bordonaro has progressed to the point where he is not only the best California-bred sprinter - he recently was voted the Cal-bred champ for 2005 - but he might be the best sprinter on the West Coast, period. He is coming off the best race of his career, a runaway victory in the Vernon O. Underwood Handicap at Hollywood Park in which he earned a career-best 115 Beyer Speed Figure.

"He's done great since that race," Bill Spawr, who trains Bordonaro, said Thursday from Florida. "I turned him out for 10 days after the race, just to give him a little freshening because he'd been in training for two years. The spacing of this race is perfect for him. He needs about six or eight weeks between races. He runs hard, and he runs fast."

There are several other horses in the race who will try for the lead, but Bordonaro can rip through a 21 and change opening quarter and a 43 and change half-mile and still keep going. He is a formidable opponent.

Spawr said Bordonaro had trouble adjusting to his surroundings the first day he was at Gulfstream because of the configuration of the barn, which has a row of stalls facing the track. "We moved him to the outside the second day, and he's been fine," Spawr said.

Trainer Doug O'Neill has sent both Areyoutalkintome and Thor's Echo to Florida to represent California.

Areyoutalkintome has not won a race since March, but his consistency makes him a factor. He most recently finished third in the On Trust Handicap to Proud Tower Too, who subsequently won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita. Thor's Echo was third in the Malibu after finishing third, behind Areyoutalkintome, in the California Cup Sprint in November.

Red Warrior, an upset winner of this race last year at Santa Anita, is seeking his first win since that race.

Florida's best chance may lay with Mister Fotis, who has turned in three sharp efforts since a dull race at Calder in September.

"We did throat surgery on him after that race," said Marty Wolfson, who trains Mister Fotis. "He couldn't breathe."

Mister Fotis most recently won the seven-furlong Kenny Noe Handicap at Calder in December, earning a career-best 113 Beyer. He got loose on the lead that day, which will not happen on Saturday, but he has the ability to sit and finish. Wolfson is concerned, though, that six furlongs might be too short for Mister Fotis. In fact, Wolfson gave serious consideration to stretching out Mister Fotis to 1 1/8 miles and sending him to Santa Anita for the Sunshine Millions Classic.

"But the only time I shipped him, to the West Virginia Derby, he got pretty sick," Wolfson said. "I'm concerned about the distance - 6 1/2 or seven furlongs is ideal. But he will close."

The field

Sunshine Millions Sprint
Purse: $300,000; 6 furlongs

PPHORSEJOCKEYWT.ODDS
1Areyoutalkintome (CA)J. Velazquez1224-1
2Thor's Echo (CA)J. Bailey1215-1
3Nightmare Affair (FL)R. Bejarano12212-1
4All Hail Stormy (FL)J. Castellano12250-1
5Halos Sailing Sain (FL)C. Decarlo12115-1
6Bordonaro (CA)P. Valenzuela1225-2
7Mister Fotis (FL)E. Prado1225-1
8Tacirring (FL)R. Alvarado12220-1
9Santana Strings (FL)S. Bridgmohan12110-1
10Valid Video (FL)J. Lezcano12212-1
11Bushwacker (FL)A. Solis12115-1
12Red Warrior (CA)E. Castro12230-1
13Smokume (FL)S. Uske12215-1

* Blinkers off: Valid Video
* Odds by Art Gropper