09/29/2010 3:45PM

Here Comes Ben, Vineyard Haven likely to compete elsewhere


Two of the leading members of the division will in all likelihood be conspicuous by their absence when the field assembles for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Charles Lopresti confirmed Wednesday that he is still leaning strongly toward running Here Comes Ben in the BC Dirt Mile rather than shorten him up to six furlongs for the Sprint. And assistant trainer Rick Mettee said that Vineyard Haven, who is not Breeders’ Cup eligible, would also target the Dirt Mile if his connections choose to ante up the supplemental fees.

Here Comes Ben vaulted to the top of the sprint division with his three-quarter-length victory over Big Drama in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Forego, while Vineyard Haven is rated fourth on DRF’s Watchmaker Watch. Here Comes Ben’s victory in the Forego was the fourth in a row for the 4-year-old son of Street Cry, each of those wins coming at seven furlongs.

“Right now I’m about 90 percent certain we’re going to the Dirt Mile, although we haven’t ruled out the Sprint completely just yet,” said Lopresti. “He’s run so well at seven furlongs and he’s still going well at the end, so I know a mile won’t be a problem for him. In fact, he broke his maiden at a mile. The problem with the Sprint is that if you have any problem going six furlongs, just blink your eye, the race is over and you cannot recover.”

Lopresti said Here Comes Ben, who worked a half-mile in 48.00 seconds at Keeneland on Tuesday, would probably not have a prep prior to the Breeders’ Cup.

“He’s nominated to the Phoenix at Keeneland, but he runs well fresh, is doing very well at the moment, and he’s dead fit,” said Lopresti. “His work was real easy, just a maintenance work.”

Mettee, an assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor, said Girolamo is the only member of Team Godolphin who could end up in the Sprint, and even that is contingent on his performance Saturday in Belmont’s Grade 1 Vosburgh.

“Gayego is likely to go in the [Dirt] Mile, and I got the impression from Saeed that either Regal Ransom or possibly Vineyard Haven, if they do choose to supplement him, might run in the [Dirt] Mile as well. A lot would depend on how Regal Ransom runs this weekend in the Kelso.”

The Vosburgh is the only major prep for the Sprint this weekend.