Then again, the presence of Greg's Gold, a tyro on the Del Mar Polytrack this summer, could have something to do with the short field. Greg's Gold has already secured a spot in the Breeders' Cup Sprint after sweeping to a 1 1/2-length victory in the seven-furlong Pat O'Brien Handicap (gr. II) in his last start Aug. 19. That followed a game second-place finish by a nose to In Summation July 29 in the Bing Crosby Handicap (gr. I).
The 6-year-old California-bred Lake George gelding worked six furlongs Oct. 1 in a bullet 1:09 flat.
“He came out of it well and looks great, so we’re going,” trainer David Hofmans said of the Ancient Title.
Greg's Gold returned earlier this year from a 17-month layoff after bowing a tendon. In the Pat O'Brien, Greg's Gold earned his first graded stakes win since the 2005 Crosby. He went to the sidelines shortly after that race with the tendon issue, returning with an allowance victory in February at Santa Anita. Since getting back to action, Greg's Gold has won three of six starts with two seconds for his patient connections. Lifetime, the consistent runner is to 7-8-1 in 19 starts and has banked $778,123 in his career.
Victor Espinoza rides Greg's Gold for the third consecutive time.
Among the horses nominated to the Ancient Title, but not going, is the top-rated Smokey Stover, who will instead train up to the Oct. 27 Sprint at Monmouth Park, according to trainer Greg Gilchrist. Surf Cat, who was second to Greg's Gold as the favorite in the O'Brien, was entered in the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) on turf by trainer Bruce Headley.
Defending Ancient Title winner Bordonaro is the most accomplished rival for Greg's Gold. Since winning a grade III race at Oaklawn Park in April, though, the Bill Spawr trainee has gone into a three-race tailspin. He most recently finished last of six in the O'Brien, nine lengths behind Greg's Gold, after setting the pace over the tiring Del Mar surface.
Bordonaro, who worked five furlongs at Santa Anita Oct. 1 in :58 1/5, has a 10-1-2 record from 18 starts with earnings of $920,128. Spawr has been impressed with how Bordonaro has handled the Cushion Track.
Regular rider Richard Migliore was confident that Bordonaro, a 6-year-old California-bred son of Memo, would show major improvement.
“This track is obviously a lot kinder to speed than Del Mar was,” Migliore said. “Hopefully, that will play in his favor. We don’t have to inhibit his natural gait. We can just let him be a fast horse, like he wants to be.”
It may look like a two-horse race, but trainer Cliff Sise Jr. says to beware of Idiot Proof.
“He’s better than ever,” he said of the 3-year-old California-bred son of Benchmark. Idiot Proof has been training well since fading to third in the seven-furlong Real Good Deal Stakes Aug. 10 at Del Mar.
“He wasn’t a happy camper down there,” Sise said. “He just wasn’t himself at Del Mar.”
Idiot Proof, to be ridden by David Flores, has a 4-1-1 record from seven starts with earnings of $250,136 for owner-breeders Marty and Pam Wygod.
Two other 3-year-olds, Bad Boy and Barbecue Eddie, compete the field.
$300,000 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. I, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), 3 & Up, 6 Furlongs (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Bordonaro (CA), 124, Richard Migliore
2. Bad Boy (KY), 123, Tyler Baze
3. Greg's Gold (CA), 124, Victor Espinoza
4. Idiot Proof (CA), 123, David R. Flores
5. Barbecue Eddie (MD), 123, Aaron T. Gryder