10/02/2007 11:00PM

Top three BC Sprint choices pretty much set

EmailBarring a spectacular performance by one of the handful of speedsters in Sunday's Grade 1 Ancient Title Handicap at Santa Anita, the first three betting choices for the Breeders' Cup Sprint are set.

Midnight Lute, who will come into the Sprint off an eye-catching performance in the Grade 1 Forego and an eight-week layoff, will be favored to win the Sprint. Fabulous Strike, by virtue of his impressive victory in Saturday's Grade 1 Vosburgh, will likely be the public's second choice, with Smokey Stover - who, like Midnight Lute, will enter the Sprint idle since Sept. 1 - a close third in the wagering.

Fabulous Strike is one of at least three members of the Vosburgh field pointing for the Sprint. The connections of runner-up Talent Search and troubled fourth-place finisher Mach Ride also have said they will take another run at Fabulous Strike on Breeders' Cup Day.

The Ancient Title is one of two stakes this weekend with possible Sprint implications. The second is Saturday's Grade 3 Phoenix Breeders' Cup at Keeneland.

Only eight horses were nominated to the Ancient Title, which last year served as a steppingstone for Thor's Echo's upset victory in the Sprint. Thor's Echo finished second in the 2006 Ancient Title behind Bordonaro, who will be entered Sunday but is still not certain to run.

"We're on the bubble regarding making the Breeders' Cup, which is our goal again," said Bordonaro's trainer, Bill Spawr. "And I'm concerned about running him on Sunday and then bringing him back in 20 days for the Sprint."

Bordonaro's form is not as strong this year as it was in 2006 when he captured 3 of 4 starts prior to his fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup. He finished seventh in the True North at Belmont in June, third in the Bing Crosby, and sixth in the Pat O'Brien over the Del Mar Polytrack.

"You always have to wonder if they've slipped a little until they show you otherwise, but physically and mentally he's 100 percent and really a different horse since he's gotten back to Santa Anita," Spawr said.

A field of seven or eight is likely for the Phoenix, led by Saint Anddan, winner of the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Sprint on May 5.