10/25/2006 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup leaves B-list sprinters


ARCADIA, Calif. – The Breeders’ Cup Sprint killed the 2006 California Cup Sprint.

Bordonaro, Thor’s Echo, and Areyoutalkintome –the leading California-bred sprinters – will enter the BC Sprint next week, leaving the $150,000 Cal Cup Sprint on Saturday as a shallow six-furlong race with a possibly suspect favorite.

Da Stoops can prove otherwise if he reproduces his best form. Although he has not run a fast race since January and has missed two weeks of training in fall, Da Stoops inherited favoritism when it was announced that Areyoutalkintome would scratch from the race.

Trainer Doug O’Neill said Thursday that Areyoutalkintome would remain in Kentucky and enter the BC Sprint. Though he is not yet in the body of the field, Areyoutalkintome is the first BC Sprint alternate.

“He’s not going to run in the Cal Cup,” O’Neill said. “He’s staying in Kentucky, and we just hope that somebody drops out of the Sprint.”

It was the second defection this week by a Cal Cup Sprint winner. Areyoutalkintome won the race last year; Jet West, who won in 2004, was knocked out of the race after he underwent colic surgery this week. Their absence make the Cal Cup Sprint an ordinary seven-horse six-furlong sprint. It goes as race 6, the first leg of the pick six, which has a $1 million guaranteed pool.

Da Stoops, who will be a single on many tickets, faces speedballs Bro Lo and Slew’s Prince, back-class veteran Debonair Joe, stakes winner Bonfante, and closers Old Man River and Buck Tuddy Trout.

Da Stoops originally was aiming for another race, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

“I wanted to run in the big race,” said Baffert, referring to the $250,000 Cal Cup Classic.

An unspecified setback forced Baffert to shift plans. “I lost some time with him after Del Mar, so it was kind of a rush job to get him ready for this.”

Baffert said Da Stoops missed two weeks, but trained well for the Cal Cup Sprint.

“He’s doing well. I feel confident,” Baffert said.

Da Stoops, who dislikes racing inside horses, drew the outside post and should get a pressing trip outside Bro Lo and Slew’s Prince. Neither of those speedsters is at the top of his game, though Bro Lo benefits from a shorter distance after battling to the eighth pole in a seven-furlong allowance. Slew’s Prince is quick, but vulnerable beyond five furlongs.

Stretch-runner Bonfante would benefit from a pace meltdown. A winner of 8 of 20 starts, Bonfante won a Cal-bred sprint stakes last time out. Debonair won the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes in 2002 and has won 8-of-40 lifetime.