01/27/2005 12:00AM

Sprint populated with rags-to-riches runners

Green Team is one of the Sprint's front-runners who will have to be caught.

Want stakes horses? Find them in claiming races. And who knows? They could end up in the same place many of the grizzled veterans will be on Saturday - at Santa Anita, racing for a $300,000 purse in the Sprint.

A field of 13 will run in the six-furlong Sprint, which goes as race 4, and most leading contenders share at least one trait. Though their current form may suggest otherwise, the lineup is downright rags-to-riches. Stakes winners Areyoutalkintome, Green Team, Full Moon Madness, Shake You Down, and My Cousin Matt are refugees from a lower class.

Since being claimed in 2003 for $32,000, Areyoutalkintome and Green Team have won three stakes each and earned more than 10 times their purchase prices. The 10-year-old Full Moon Madness has been claimed twice - from his debut in 1997 and again in 2004. He has won 15 of 46 starts and earned more than $1 million.

So even though trainer Doug O'Neill was referring to Areyoutalkintome when discussing the Sprint this week, his comment applies to several horses in the field. Areyoutalkintome, he said, "is solid; he's one of those horses that when you lead him over there, you know what he's going to give you."

A California-bred, Areyoutalk-intome won the Grade 3 El Conejo on Jan. 2, and the California Cup Sprint at the fall Oak Tree meet.

Areyoutalkintome will need to reproduce his best Beyer Speed Figure - something in the 108 range - to win the Sunshine Millions Sprint. Starting at post 7, in the middle of the field under Tyler Baze, he can race to the lead as he did last time, or rally from behind as he did in the Cal Cup Sprint.

Front-runners Shake You Down and Green Team are the ones to catch. They raced one-two throughout in the 2004 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park, but enter the 2005 Sprint on opposite form cycles. Shake You Down, a Florida-bred claimed for $65,000 in 2003, has won 17 races and $1.2 million. However, he has tailed off since his Sprint win last year, and has earned triple-digit Beyer Figures only twice since. At 7, the Scott Lake-trained Shake You Down appears to have lost a step.

California-bred Green Team ran the fastest race of his career in his last start, earning a 113 Beyer at Golden Gate. The fact that his career-best figure came in his 38th career start - he has 10 wins - might be reason enough to expect him to return to Earth. But it's not that simple. Green Team has been freshened nearly two months since then by trainer Jeff Bonde, and has sufficient speed to flee the rail.

The rest of the field includes Don'tsellmeshort, Revello, Bourbon N Blues, Onebadshark, Greg's Gold, Red Warrior, Bang, and Bilo.

The field

Sunshine Millions Sprint
Purse: $300,000; 6 furlongs

1Green Team (CA)R. Gonzalez1227-2
2Don'tsellmeshort (CA)D. Flores12120-1
3Revello (CA)K. Desormeaux1228-1
4Bourbon N Blues (FL)M. Pedroza12130-1
5My Cousin Matt (FL)R. Dominguez1229-2
6Onebadshark (FL)J. Bailey12212-1
7Areyoutalkintome (CA)T. Baze1215-2
8Greg's Gold (CA)D. Sorenson12130-1
9Shake You Down (FL)M. Luzzi1228-1
10Full Moon Madness (CA) M. Smith1226-1
11Red Warrior (CA)G. Gomez12230-1
12Bang (CA)R. Douglas12220-1
Also eligible:
13Bilo (CA)V. Espinoza12220-1
14Mister Fotis (FL)J. Chavez12020-1

* Odds by Michael Hammersly
* Television: 4-6 p.m. Eastern, NBC