09/12/2013 9:44PM

Breeders' Cup Sprint picture unusually cloudy for mid-September

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Smile Sprint winner Bahamian Squall is among the top BC Sprint contenders.

By the time Labor Day has come and gone, there is usually some semblance of order amongst the nation’s sprint division. Summer staples like the Forego, Vanderbilt, and King’s Bishop, all Grade 1’s at Saratoga, and Del Mar’s Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien, usually begin to sort things out as summer turns to fall and everyone’s attention starts focusing on the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

But such is not the case this year.

Sahara Sky, whom many still consider the leader of the division, has been idle since his victory in the Met Mile on May 27; he is on the farm and not expected to return to training until the end of the month. Fast Bullet, who looked like the cream of the crop following his impressive victory in Belmont’s Grade 2 True North Handicap on June 8, has seen his stock plummet rapidly since changing barns and pulling up a little shaky following his poor effort in the Forego. The same holds true for Delaunay, who rose to the top of the division after his decisive victory in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap only to see his status diminish following disappointing performances in the Iowa Sprint Handicap and Vanderbilt.

Then there are defending Sprint champion Trinniberg and last year’s runner-up, The Lumber Guy. Neither has won a race this year from limited opportunities, although both are being pointed for a return trip to Santa Anita for the 2013 Sprint. Trinniberg has not started since finishing an unlucky second in the Grade 2 Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder on July 6. He will have his final Sprint prep in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 6.      

Among the leading Sprint contenders are Vanderbilt winner Justin Phillips; Gentlemen’s Bet, third in the Vanderbilt after setting a hotly contested pace; Points Offthebench and Goldencents, first and second in the Bing Crosby; Bahamian Squall, who earned an automatic berth in the Sprint field with his victory over Trinniberg in the Smile; and former claimer Strapping Groom, upset winner of the Forego.