10/03/2012 5:24PM

Breeders' Cup Sprint: The Lumber Guy a likely starter after Vosburgh win

Barbara D. Livingston
The Lumber Guy returned from a 4 1/2-month layoff to win the six-furlong Vosburgh, earning a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint plus a travel allowance.

Although no final decisions have been made, it appears three of the top five finishers from last Saturday’s Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park could be headed to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.

The Lumber Guy, who returned from a 4 1/2-month layoff to win the six-furlong Vosburgh; Poseidon’s Warrior, a good third after contesting the pace from the rail; and Sean Avery, who finished a disappointing fifth; could all meet again in the Sprint, their connections confirmed this week.

Trainer Mike Hushion said he and owner Barry Schwartz are considering both the Sprint and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for The Lumber Guy, but were likely leaning toward the Sprint. By capturing the Win-and-You’re-In Vosburgh, The Lumber Guy might have made the decision easier because he gets both his pre-entry and entry fees paid for the Sprint, and his connections get a $10,000 travel allowance.

“I’m still kicking it around with Barry, but at the moment I’d say the Sprint is probably our first option,” Hushion said.

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The Lumber Guy had not started since finishing a well-beaten sixth in the Peter Pan on May 12. He entered the Vosburgh as the lesser-regarded half of an entry with Sean Avery. But Hushion had The Lumber Guy, a 3-year-old son of Grand Slam, fit and ready to run right off the bench following a series of fast workouts both at Saratoga and Belmont.

“I was going to use an overnight race two weeks earlier as a prep, but the race didn’t go, so I worked him five furlongs in 58 instead, and that was his prep,” Hushion said. “Even though he’d been away a long time, I felt pretty good leading him over there. I wasn’t shocked that he won, I was shocked when I saw he received a 110 Beyer for the race.”

Trainer Robert “Butch” Reid Jr. also said he was contemplating sending Poseidon’s Warrior for the Sprint. Poseidon’s Warrior, idle since upsetting the Grade 1 Vanderbilt on Aug. 5, set a contested pace after breaking from post 1 before succumbing grudgingly to finish three lengths behind The Lumber Guy in the Vosburgh.

“I thought he ran a very good race the other day,” Reid said. “A different post position might have changed the outcome for us. The one hole really killed him being dogged like that the whole way on the lead. The Breeders’ Cup is definitely still on the radar. We pretty much fit with the East Coast sprinters. We’ll see what the West Coast horses look like this weekend before making a final decision.”

Trainer Allen Iwinski echoed similar sentiments regarding Sean Avery’s status for the Sprint. Sean Avery came back from an 11-month layoff to win an overnight stakes at Belmont on Sept. 8, but weakened through the stretch to be beaten 6 1/4 lengths in the Vosburgh.

“He ran back a little quick and didn’t fire like he normally does,” Iwinski said. “I really didn’t want to bring him back in two weeks, but it was absolutely necessary to give him another race if we want to go to the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll see how he does over the next couple of weeks before making a decision.”

Two more Win and You’re In spots for the Sprint will be up for grabs this weekend, the first Friday in the Grade 3 Phoenix at Keeneland, the second Saturday in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (formerly the Ancient Title).

A field of 10 led by the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Doctor Chit and Aikenite top the Phoenix, while 2011 Sprint winner Amazombie will attempt to defend his title in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship against a field that includes the Bob Baffert-trained duo of Capital Account and Coil.

Pletcher confirmed earlier this week that Caixa Eletronica, runner-up in the Vosburgh, was not under consideration for the Sprint, while trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Emcee, runaway winner of the Grade 1 Forego, would likely be pre-entered in both the Sprint and Dirt Mile.