Updated on 09/18/2011 12:01AM

Comebacking trio make turf sprint interesting


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Saturday's $100,000 California Turf Sprint Championship is a handicapper's delight.

What makes the five-furlong sprint over the Bay Meadows turf course so intriguing is the presence of three top-notch comebackers in the field of eight.

, who has won 2 of 3 career starts, hasn't run since winning the Malcolm Anderson Stakes here as a 2 year-old in 2004.

hasn't run since finishing last in the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes last summer at Hollywood Park. He won his first two starts, including an allowance route on the turf.

has not run since he finished second in this same race last September after winning three straight sprints during the summer.

Trainer Art Sherman has entered Greenie, who has won all three of his starts this year, including the Fishermans Wharf by six lengths in his last start March 23 at Golden Gate Fields. Although Sherman's horse has the advantage of recency, the trainer advises not to discount the comebackers.

"Five furlongs is easy to get a horse fit to win, especially if he's a willing worker," Sherman said. "The only time it's tough is if you get in a speed duel."

All three of the comebackers have worked well.

Whatsthenameman's shins became so badly inflamed when he won the Malcolm Anderson that he went to the sidelines for a year. When trainer Frank Monteleone prepared him for a comeback at Del Mar last summer, his shin his again became badly sore.

"He's pretty easy to train," Monteleone said. "From the day he gets to the track off the farm, he's ready."

Monteleone would have preferred to run in an allowance race also scheduled for Saturday, but it didn't fill.

Old Man River won his debut sprinting here last year, then won a turf route before injuring a knee in the Swaps.

Trainer Terry Knight expects Old Man River, a 4-year-old gelding, to turn in a strong performance. He has had a 1:11 six-furlong work and a 36.80 turf drill as part of his preparation.

Bonfante got all the worst of it in this race last year, racing wide when second to rail-hugging Exceeding, and trainer Steve Specht worries about having drawn the outside post. Bonfante, a 5-year-old multiple stakes winner, is ready, Specht said, and may only need racing luck.

"He got a little sore last year, but we could never find anything," said Specht, adding that Bonfante underwent a nuclear scan at the University of California at Davis."

"I had hoped to get him ready a little earlier, but the weather worked against us, and we missed too many day. After giving him time off, we didn't want to undo it in training."

Still debating Lost in the Fog's next

Trainer Greg Gilchrist said he plans to decide by Monday where Eclipse sprint champion Lost in the Fog will make his second start of the year.

Gilchrist has already nominated the 4-year-old colt for the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Stakes at Lone Star Park on Memorial Day, May 29. That race is scheduled for five furlongs. He will also nominate Lost in the Fog to the Grade 3, $150,000 Aristides Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs at six furlongs on June 3.

Gilchrist has long wanted to try Lost in the Fog, a son of Lost Soldier, on the turf, but said he also would like to try him over the Churchill Downs racing surface, where the Breeders' Cup will be held this year.

Gilchrist said he would see who was nominated to each race and evaluate the weights before making a decision. He said either race would work to get Lost in the Fog to the Grade 2, $500,000 Smile Handicap at Calder's Summit of Speed on July 15.

Lost in the Fog finished second, beaten three lengths by Carthage in his 2006 debut in the Golden Gate Fields Sprint on April 22.

Gilchrist is also nominating his 3-year-old filly Victorina to races at both tracks on the same days. She will be nominated to the $100,000 Stonerside at seven furlongs on May 29 at Lone Star and the Grade 3, $150,000 Dogwood Breeders' Cup at one mile on June 3 at Churchill.

Both Lost in the Fog and Victorina are owned by Harry Aleo.