There is not much use in dramatic hand&#45;wringing, and goodness knows this reporter is a keg half&#45;full kind of guy. But there are few things more disheartening &ndash; at least in horse racing &ndash; than the sight of a four&#45;horse field in a Grade 1 race at six furlongs on the main track contested on the threshold of the Breeders&rsquo; Cup that all but guarantees the winner not only a place in the starting field, but also a shot at a division title.Yes, it will be fun to watch Roy H and Ransom the Moon throw down again on Saturday in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. They have split four meetings over the past two seasons, and both old pros figure to be in the thick of the conversation for the Breeders&rsquo; Cup Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.But to muster only two other certain starters for the race should be an embarrassment &ndash; never mind the ostentatious use of the term &ldquo;championship&rdquo; by an event that confers no such honor &ndash; and there is a long list of enabling factors. Because of its geographic isolation, California racing relies to larger extent on homegrown talent than other major racing regions. The registered 2016 California crop number just 1,760, according to the Jockey Club. In 2006 it was 3,320. Just 25 years ago the crop numbered nearly 5,000.Partly because of the close of Hollywood Park and partly due to a reaction to shrinking inventory, the Southern California stakes program has disintegrated to only three graded events for all comers at six furlongs and three at the tweener distance of seven furlongs. It may be counterintuitive to those faced with filling races, but more stakes opportunities on a circuit can increase investment in horses of quality.But, let&rsquo;s face it, sprinters just aren&rsquo;t sexy. Their marquee races have become afterthoughts, usually plugged into the undercards on mega&#45;stakes programs. California needs a glitzy sprint series to go along with its winter&#45;spring obsession with 3&#45;year&#45;olds and its robust schedule for middle&#45;distance runners on the dirt. To be sure, California does not have a monopoly on small stakes fields. The venerable Phoenix Stakes drew just six on Friday, anemic by Keeneland&rsquo;s fall standards. But at least three of the six &ndash; Whitmore, Limousine Liberal, and Promises Fulfilled &ndash; would have a legitimate shot at an Eclipse Award if they could parlay a win into another score in the Breeders&rsquo; Cup down the road.The same could be said for either Ransom the Moon or Roy H with a Santa Anita&#45;Churchill Downs double. But the preponderance of tiny California fields can give voters pause, even though it was barely two months ago that the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar attracted a field of 11. Ransom the Moon and Roy H finished 1&#45;2 that day, with the winner 2 1/4 lengths clear at the end of the six furlongs, while Roy H edged Touching Rainbows by a half&#45;length on class alone. The next three were lapped alongside in close procession.None of those 11 came back to run in the Grade 2 Pat O&rsquo;Brien on July 28, in which the unbeaten Catalina Cruiser stayed that way while beating up on three opponents. Participation in the O&rsquo;Brien was similar to the four&#45;horse field in February for the Grade 3 Palos Verdes (won by Roy H), the five&#45;horse field in March for the Grade 1 Triple Bend (won by City of Light), and the five&#45;horse field in April for the Grade 2 Kona Gold (won by Bobby Abu Dhabi).The Grade 2 San Carlos wrapped up Santa Anita&rsquo;s long early season in late June with a field of eight and a promising winner in American Anthem. He came back to finish fifth in the Crosby and has not worked since late August.The depth of the West Coast sprint group also was hit hard by the deaths of both Ten Blessings, who suffered irreparable injuries when favored in the Kona Gold and was euthanized, and Kona Gold winner Bobby Abu Dhabi, who sustained fatal damage preparing for the Crosby in a workout at Del Mar. The necropsy, reported by The Blood&#45;Horse, blamed Bobby Abu Dhabi&rsquo;s death on spinal fractures resulting from a fall triggered by a broken ankle.California racing earned a healthy chunk of its national reputation on the shoulders of world&#45;class speedballs. Viking Spirit went east to win the 1965 Carter before taking the Crosby and the Californian back home. Kissin George capped his fine 1968 campaign out West by winning the Sport Page at Aqueduct and finishing second to Dr. Fager in the Vosburgh. Triple Bend won the 1972 Vosburgh the same year he took the Santa Anita Handicap.Today, if trends don&rsquo;t lie, there is no longer the pool of talent that helped make California synonymous with Breeders&rsquo; Cup Sprint winners like Thirty Slews, Elmhurst, Lit de Justice, Reraise, Kona Gold, Midnight Lute, Thor&rsquo;s Echo, Dancing in Silks, Amazombie, Secret Circle, Drefong, and Roy H, the defending champ. The Breeders&rsquo; Cup Sprint can be the toughest, most physical event of the two&#45;day festival, and three of the last four winners at Churchill Downs have come from California. Without question, Roy H and Ransom the Moon have proven they have the class to be in the thick of it this year. Question is, have they been swinging a light bat to get ready?