10/05/2006 12:00AM

Bordonaro tries to get even with his nemesis


has a score to settle with Pure as Gold in the Grade 1, $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

The six-furlong race is Bordonaro's first start since his controversial defeat in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Handicap on July 30 at Del Mar. Favored at 4-5, Bordonaro got smacked on the face by the whip of Pure as Gold's rider, lost focus, and finished a half-length behind. The video replay failed to provide stewards with sufficient evidence to disqualify Pure as Gold, and the result was allowed to stand. Saturday is payback time.

Six entered the Ancient Title; if the race unfolds as expected, Bordonaro will be long gone.

"We're going to run our own race. We're going to let [Bordonaro] roll," said trainer Bill Spawr. "His weapon is his speed. He can go 43-and-change and finish. That didn't happen [last time]."

With jockey Alex Solis substituting for Pat Valenzuela in the Bing Crosby, Bordonaro stumbled slightly, did not make the lead, raced three wide, and got smacked by his rival's whip in midstretch. He also conceded seven pounds to Pure as Gold, who skimmed the rail that day.

Things change Saturday. Valenzuela is back on Bordonaro, at equal weights. Barring the unforeseen, Bordonaro should race gate to wire.

"I really think he will, the way he's training here," Spawr said. "He couldn't look any better, and he couldn't train any better."

Bordonaro has won eight races and $522,164 from 11 starts for owners Daniel Casella and Fred Carrillo. His connections would need to pay a supplemental fee of $180,000 to run him in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Spawr said Bordonaro would have to win Saturday and come out of the race well in order to be supplemented.

"What worries me is that if they force him to run 8-flat, he's going to run 8-flat," he said. "How much that takes out of him, I can't tell you."

Trainer Jack Carava already declared Pure as Gold out of the Breeder's Cup.

"He'd probably be finished if we ran there," Carava said. "He is small. He's already had 10 races this year and doesn't have the physique for a race like that."

Pure as Gold does have a big heart. Claimed for $100,000 in June, Pure as Gold followed his 23-1 Bing Crosby upset with a runner-up finish three weeks later in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Handicap at seven furlongs. He earned 105 Beyer Speed Figures in both races.

"It knocked him out pretty good, but it figured to, because he was coming back quick and ran so hard the time before," Carava said. "He was down and out for about three weeks, but the way he's acted last two weeks has given me confidence."

Jon Court rides Pure as Gold, whose improved speed makes him the most likely pace rival for Bordonaro. The Ancient Title winner typically earns a Beyer in the 107-108 range; Bordonaro and Pure as Gold are the only entrants with recent dirt figures as high.

Four others will try to spring an upset. The most interesting is Spellbinder, who cuts back to a sprint after scoring a front-running neck victory in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at 1 1/16 miles at Golden Gate. Trainer Richard Mandella nominated Spellbinder to the Grade 2 Goodwood, but the prospect of facing Lava Man did not sit well and Spellbinder is too sharp to sit in the barn.

He has never earned a speed figure in a sprint that qualifies him for a Grade 1 win, but Spellbinder is a better horse now than he was the last time he tried a sprint, in July 2005, when he finished fifth in an optional claimer and earned an 83 Beyer.

Others in the field include Jungle Prince, winner of four ungraded stakes; Thor's Echo, who was supplemented to the race for $5,000; and comebacker Zanzibar.