10/08/2004 12:00AM

Stakes high for Bluesthestandard


ARCADIA, Calif. - is well known as the former $10,000 claimer who rose in class to finish a game second in the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint. With earnings of $925,818 and 15 wins in 31 starts, the consistent 7-year-old gelding is on the verge of millionaire status and a possible return trip to the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

All he needs is a win in Sunday's $250,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita to become a millionaire. Failing that, a close finish would be enough for owner Jeffrey Sengara and trainer Ted H. West to justify a trip to Texas for the Sprint.

"We need to get a good race for him to compete with the best," West said. "I want to see his 'A' game."

The Grade 1 Ancient Title lacks the three leading sprinters based in California - Kela, Our New Recruit, and Pico Central. Their absence leaves the Ancient Title with eight entrants, including Pohave and Hombre Rapido, the second and third finishers in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup Handicap at Del Mar in late July.

has not started since that race. Usually in front early, Hombre Rapido is winless in three starts since the Los Angeles Times Handicap in May 2003. "I think he can win," said John Sadler, who trains Hombre Rapido.

Trainer Doug O'Neill has two starters - Pohave and Kamsack. Pohave was brilliant at Hollywood Park earlier this year, winning the Los Angeles Times and Triple Bend handicaps before finishing second in the Bing Crosby as the 2-1 favorite.

has been sold to Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stud and is expected to be sent to Dubai following the Ancient Title.

was fourth in the Pirate's Bounty at Del Mar on Sept. 6.

Our New Recruit won the Pirate's Bounty by two lengths over Bluesthestandard, who was returning from a five-month layoff following a third in the Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita in March.

West believes that Bluesthestan-dard has improved since the Pirate's Bounty and could be on the same upward trajectory that he showed in the fall of 2003 when he was third in the Ancient Title.

"I think we're in the same pattern of improvement," he said.

West thinks jockey Mike Smith will have Bluesthestandard near the lead. "I don't think he will be too far off of it," he said. "I'm expecting him to run better than he did last year."