10/28/2010 2:34PM

Cost of Freedom still good enough for group he faces in Sprint

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Even if the gelding Cost of Freedom has lost a step at age 7, the speedster remains the horse to catch Saturday in the $100,000 California Cup Sprint at Hollywood Park.

And even if 3-year-old Goggles McCoy has never faced older stakes horses, the lightly raced gelding poses the main threat in the six-furlong Sprint, race 1 of 10 on the all-statebred California Cup card on closing weekend of the Oak Tree meet at Hollywood Park.

From an original list of 38 Sprint nominees, just five entered. Bettors are likely to make it a two-horse race between Grade 1 winner Cost of Freedom and 4-for-5 Goggles McCoy. A Lil Dumaani, My Summer Slew, and Runaway Bandido complete the field.

Cost of Freedom, a Cee’s Tizzy gelding bred by Harris Farms, once was considered the top sprinter in the state and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint candidate. Third by a head in the 2009 BC Sprint, Cost of Freedom won his first two starts of 2010, including the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood in June. Then everything went wrong.

Favored at 3-5 in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar, Cost of Freedom hopped at the start, bobbled, broke last, rushed, and faded to fifth. Just 17 days later, trainer John Sadler experimented and switched to grass. Cost of Freedom finished fourth, and returned Oct. 9 with another fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ancient Title.

The BC Sprint was out.

“We figured maybe it wasn’t quite the time to take him [to Kentucky],” Sadler said. “Maybe he is not as good as he was, so we took the conservative route and said, ‘Let’s keep him home.’ ”

Joe Talamo will ride Cost of Freedom, who has earned $544,131 since owners Gary and Cecil Barber claimed him for $50,000 in the summer of 2008. Overall, Cost of Freedom has won 8 of 18 races and $692,263, and enters as the quickest in Sprint field.

Goggles McCoy won his first four starts in front-running fashion before he faded in a two-turn race at Del Mar. He is trained by Steve Sherman, who is assisted by his father, Art Sherman.

“We might have run him back a little too quick [at Del Mar],” Art Sherman said, explaining the fourth-place finish in the one-mile El Cajon.

Goggles McCoy returned to Steve Sherman’s base at Golden Gate for a freshening, and has worked well since shipping to Hollywood early this month.

“He really has trained well since he’s been down here,” Art Sherman said.

The question is whether he can sit comfortably in second position if Cost of Freedom makes the lead.

“That’s what I don’t know, we haven’t seen him sit off a horse before,” Sherman said.

Goggles McCoy, owned by Thomas and Deborah Shapiro, is drawn in post 3 under Russell Baze.

A Lil Dumaani is an allowance-caliber sprinter also owned by the Barbers, My Summer Slew returns to the main track, and deep closer Runaway Bandido will roll late in his first start since being transferred to Dan Hendricks.