10/20/2010 3:19PM

Owner willing to pay big bucks to put Supreme Summit in BC Sprint

Benoit & Associates
Supreme Summit (6), finishing second to Smiling Tiger in the Ancient Title, will get a shot at the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Trainer Mike Puype spent part of Tuesday evening watching a replay of the Grade 1 Ancient Title Stakes at Hollywood Park from Oct. 9, a race in which his horse Supreme Summit finished a fast-closing second.

The more he watched the race, the more Puype became convinced that the 4-year-old Supreme Summit belongs in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Supreme Summit, who has yet to win a stakes in his 12-race career, will be supplemented to the BC Sprint for $100,000 by owner Joseph Lacombe, Puype said. Lacombe will need to pay an additional $60,000 in starting and entry fees, Puype said.

Puype’s confidence stems from Supreme Summit’s stretch rally in the Ancient Title when he closed from seventh at the quarter pole, trailing by 6 3/4 lengths, to finish a half-length behind race winner Smiling Tiger.

“He was running great,” Puype said. “He just ran out of ground. He went right past them after the wire.”

Puype is hopeful that Churchill’s long stretch will suit a closer such as Supreme Summit.

“He’s got the right style for that race,” he said.

A winner of three races and $233,100, Supreme Summit made his second start for Puype in the Ancient Title, having been trained by Doug O’Neill in 2009 and earlier this year. On the undercard of the second day of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, Supreme Summit was second in the seven-furlong Damascus Stakes.

Even with such high entry and starting fees, Puype said the BC Sprint is worth the gamble.

“He’s putting up a lot of money,” Puype said of Lacombe. “It’s a big hit, and we’ll give it a try.”

The Breeders’ Cup plans for Cost of Freedom have not been determined, trainer John Sadler said. Third in the 2009 BC Sprint, Cost of Freedom has 2 wins in 5 starts this year, but was fourth in the Ancient Title.

Sadler said on Wednesday that BC Sprint at Churchill Downs or the $100,000 California Cup Sprint for statebreds at Hollywood Park on Oct. 30 are possibilities, pending a discussion with owners Gary and Cecil Barber.

Sadler said he was encouraged by a half-mile workout in 46.60 seconds by Cost of Freedom on Tuesday.

“He worked so well,” Sadler said. “There is a chance he will go either place.”

Dollase has two Breeders’ Cup prospects

The West Point Thoroughbreds syndicate and trainer Craig Dollase have two candidates for the Breeders’ Cup – Awesome Gem in the Dirt Mile and Tropic Storm in the Turf Sprint.

Awesome Gem, 7, will make his fourth consecutive appearance in a Breeders’ Cup race, having finished third to Curlin in the 2007 Classic, sixth in the 2008 Mile and ninth in the 2009 Classic. The winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup on July 10, Awesome Gem was fifth in the Goodwood Stakes here on Oct. 2.

Dollase said he thinks that Awesome Gem can be effective in the Dirt Mile if the track comes up wet. The 2007 Classic was run in the slop. Awesome Gem later won the 2009 Hawthorne Gold Cup on a muddy track.

“If it comes up sloppy, I won’t be crying,” he said.

Tropic Storm, 6, won the minor Windy Sands Handicap at Del Mar on Sept. 4, but was third in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile on turf here on Oct. 9 after setting a quick pace. He was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Liberian Freighter.

“He ran well considering it all,” Dollase said. “He’s a fighter.”

In his 2010 debut at Del Mar, Tropic Storm finished second by a nose in a five-furlong turf sprint and was promoted to first when the winner was disqualified for causing interference. The BC Turf Sprint is also run over five furlongs on turf.

◗ Zenyatta jogged and galloped on Hollywood Park’s main track on Wednesday under overcast conditions. Before the exercise, the undefeated 6-year-old Zenyatta was given a leisurely walk on a trail adjacent to the final turn and entered the main track at the head of the stretch.

Zenyatta is scheduled to work on Friday, continuing her preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“She couldn’t be going any better,” said exercise rider Steve Willard.