07/28/2006 12:00AM

Bordonaro reigns as king of sprinters


DEL MAR, Calif. - Bordonaro returns from a three-month layoff Sunday in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap at Del Mar, where trainer Bill Spawr offers an explicit guarantee about the nation's best six-furlong sprinter.

"It will be his best race," Spawr said. "We are not carrying any excuses."

None will be required if Bordonaro reproduces the 115 Beyer Figure he earned in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Handicap at Oaklawn Park. That race on April 13 remains the fastest six-furlong race this year; Bordonaro looks and acts like he will pick up where he left off.

"He's stronger than he's ever been before," Spawr said. "He's been perfect coming into this race. I might have an excuse called Carthage or Premium Saltine, because those are good horses. But we've been running against good horses."

In fact, Bordonaro has dismantled his opposition in four straight stakes, at four tracks, in three states. If Bordonaro reproduces his top form, Carthage and Premium Saltine would need career-best efforts to beat him. The Bing Crosby field also includes graded stakes winners Battle Won and Trickey Trevor, and longshot closer Pure as Gold.

Fred Carrillo and Daniel Cassella own Bordonaro, and are prepared to supplement the 5-year-old gelding to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint at a cost of $150,000. Bordonaro, who has won 8 of 10, can finance the BC Sprint by winning the $300,000 Bing Crosby under his new jockey, Alex Solis.

Bordonaro and Solis worked five furlongs last Saturday. When they came off the track, Solis turned to Spawr and said, simply, "Wow." Bordonaro was timed in 1:00.60, and Solis had such a strong hold his right stirrup left a gash on Bordonaro's shoulder.

Bordonaro drew post 5; Carthage drew post 6.

"We're inside Carthage, so we have to go, we have to do the dirty work," Spawr said. "I respect all of them, but I would think that if we beat Carthage, we would probably win the race."

Carthage has won four straight, including the Grade 3 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint last out in which he earned a career-best 108 Beyer Figure. The Beyer par for the Bing Crosby is 112. Trained by Art Sherman, Carthage has won 8 of 11 since being gelded.

The post draw complicates matters for the improved Premium Saltine, a 10-for-25 veteran who drew post 3. A 7-year-old gelding, Premium Saltine is making his second start for owner Jeffrey Sengara, who purchased him for $70,000 from Midwest owner Maggi Moss.

In his first start for Sengara and trainer Ted H. West, Premium Saltine went a sizzling half-mile in 43.81 seconds and raced gate to wire in a third-condition allowance.

"We weren't 'giving' him a race, but we didn't think we had him completely cranked," West said. "We think he's probably got a better one in him. And it looks like he'll need a better one."

Premium Saltine has worked strongly since arriving at Del Mar, but West admits he and Tyler Baze face a difficult decision mapping strategy because the front-running favorites are drawn to his outside.

"He did 43-and-change so easy last time; I don't want to go 44-and-change strangling him," West said.

Conversely, if Baze allows Premium Saltine to rip early, he could get pinned inside a three-way pace battle. It would be a recipe for defeat.

Trickey Trevor has won 18 of 37, but he also drew an undesirable post. Tricky Trevor is not as quick as the favorites, and from the post 2 he could get shuffled back.

Battle Won, runner-up in the Bing Crosby last year, figures for the right trip from just off the pace. He has speed, but also can be rated.

Pure as Gold is the only deep closer in the field, but is more effective on grass.