10/16/2003 12:00AM

Plenty of youngsters - and talent - in field


ARCADIA, Calif. - Fifteen horses from far and wide have been pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and none are as isolated as Private Horde. The colt worked a half-mile Thursday at Churchill Downs, and was then sent back 117 miles to trainer Joe Cain's farm in Russell Springs, Ky.

It is an unusually remote location to train a horse up to a six-furlong, $1 million race. But there is nothing typical about this year's Sprint field. At the time of the pre-entry announcement Thursday at Santa Anita, only six Sprint runners were on the grounds. Six others remained in Kentucky; Aldebaran and Midas Eyes were at Hollywood Park; and Valid Video was training at Monmouth.

Shake You Down, New York's top six-furlong sprinter, arrived at Santa Anita early this week. He joined California-based Bluesthestandard, Captain Squire, Yankee Gentleman, and 3-year-old Zavata on the grounds. Congaree was pre-entered but will not run in the Sprint, according to trainer Bob Baffert.

Still based in Kentucky are Ethan Man, Private Horde, and four 3-year-olds that will help make up the youngest Sprint field ever. The race has never included more than five 3-year-olds, but seven of the 14 expected runners this year are 3. Along with Zavata, the 3-year-old group includes Cajun Beat, Clock Stopper, Great Notion, and Posse, all in Kentucky, as well as Valid Video and Midas Eyes.

Midas Eyes is one of two Bobby Frankel-trainees pre-entered in the Sprint. Midas Eyes's inexperience against older company is irrelevant compared to the barrier facing Aldebaran. Aldebaran is a 5-year-old whose five graded stakes wins this year earned him the reputation as the nation's top one-turn horse. A deep closer that specializes in races at seven furlongs and farther, his style is wrong for the Sprint. Aldebaran has never even tried six furlongs.

Private Horde was the only Sprint entrant to work Thursday. He was timed in a bullet 46.20 seconds, and galloped out five furlongs in 59.80, according to his trainer. Terry Thompson rode Private Horde to victory last out in the $75,000 Marfa Stakes at Turfway Park, and was up for the workout. Jason Lumpkins will ride Private Horde in the Sprint, which will be his first Breeders' Cup ride. Private Horde's biggest win this year was in the Grade 2 Vanderbilt at Saratoga. He shipped in two days before that race, and will be shipped in two days before the Breeders' Cup.

"I wanted to come in as late as possible," said Cain. "If I was going to come in early, I would have come a month ago. I would rather be there either 30 days or two days. If I come in Thursday, I won't lose anything. If I came in four or five days before, he'd be low. He's doing great, I couldn't ask for him to be doing any better."

Private Horde worked alone Thursday, and Cain said the work was easy: "The rider said he had as much horse coming off the track as he going on the track."

Also of note, Kent Desormeaux has picked up the mount on Kentucky Cup Sprint runner-up Clock Stopper.