03/04/2010 1:00AM

Bribon, Sterwins vie for Gold Cup

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Bribon, winner of last year's Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, and Sterwins, a multiple Grade 3 winner, top a field of 14 entered for the 29th Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup at the Garrison Savannah racecourse in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Saturday. Both Bribon and Sterwins are owned by Barbados residents.

The 1 1/8-mile turf event, run over a right-handed course with tight turns, is worth $97,000 and is the most important race run in Barbados.

The field also includes Bad Action, a son of Brahms who won the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes at the Meadowlands last fall, and last year's Gold Cup winner, Daylight Express, who is one four horses in the field for owner Michael Taylor.

Bribon was purchased by Derrick Smith late in 2009 with the Gold Cup in mind. A 6-year-old gelding by Mark of Esteem, Bribon has won 9 of 20 starts, all at one mile or less, and finished off last season with a close second-place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Top European rider Johnny Murtagh will ride Bribon from post 8.

Sterwins, a 7-year-old son of Runaway Groom, was bred by owner Eugene Melnyk and is trained by Mark Casse.

He was second in the Queen's Plate at Woodbine four years ago and has developed into a versatile middle-distance runner, and last year won the Grade 3 Connaught Cup at 1o1/16 miles on turf and the 1 1/8-mile With Approval Stakes.

Sterwins, who will start from post 6, has been a gem of consistency, hitting the board in 22 of 28 starts and registering 8 wins for earnings of $971,936.

He prepped for the Gold Cup with a second-place finish in a nine-furlong turf allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 22.

Sterwins arrived in Barbados on Feb. 26, and Casse was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

"He's doing great," said Casse. "I think we have covered all the bases in his training. We have breezed him the opposite direction on the turf and he went well. Hopefully with a little luck he'll be very tough."

Melnyk, the pharmaceutical giant who is from Toronto, Ontario, has run several horses in the Gold Cup and won it in 2004 with Kathir. This is his first starter since 2005.

"This group is the toughest I have ever seen coming to Barbados," said Melnyk, who is flying in dozens of friends and family to Barbados to celebrate the race. "Win, lose, or draw, it will be an exciting race. I want to make sure we are competitive, and Sterwins, running at multiple tracks and surfaces, fit the bill this year."

Canada's many-time champion jockey Patrick Husbands will ride Sterwins.

Bad Action, an eight-time winner with earnings of more than $322,000, will be ridden by Jono Jones, a four-time winner of the Gold Cup who now rides at Woodbine.

The Gold Cup field also includes top Barbadian runner Areutalkintome, who has won or placed in all 11 of his starts. A 4-year-old, he is a son of the Arazi stallion Zwick.