Changing Owners, Trainers the Norm for Sprint Hopefuls

When considering Breeders' Cup fields, one would normally think the vast majority of horses are homebreds, or at least have been with one nurturing trainer and owner who have been pointing the horse to a certain championship race since it was a youngster. Not so, where this year's TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) is concerned.

Of the 14 starters in the Sprint this year, just three have not either changed owners, trainers, or been offered for sale in claiming races. Of that trio, Friendly Island has raced for Anstu Stables and trainer Todd Pletcher in each of his 16 races; longshot Lewis Michael has run as a homebred for Frank Calabrese in his dozen races; and, ironically, Nightmare Affair, the most experienced runner with 41 races under his belt, has been in the care of conditioner Manny Azpurua and owners Ron Borgese and Gary Marano's Timber Side Stables his entire career.

Of the rest, Areyoutalkintome was claimed out of his third race, a $32,000 maiden claimer at Hollywood Park, which turned out to be his first win. Trainer Mike Mitchell originally had the horse for a partnership, and ran him in a pair of $40,000 maiden claimers before dropping him. Doug O'Neill picked up the training duties for the now-5-year-old gelding, who won the El Canejo Handicap (gr. III) last year at Santa Anita.

Attila's Storm started out his career in the hands of Hall of Famer Ron McAnally in California, then was purchased privately after his second maiden race and moved east to New York, where John Destefano Jr. picked up the training duties. After winning two of four starts for Destefano, Attila's Storm was moved to his present conditioner, Richard Schosberg, for whom he won the Fall Highweight Handicap and ran a good fourth in last year's Sprint. Attila's Storm is owned by a partnership that includes Barry K. Schwartz, Wachtel Stable, Double S Stable, and Nils Brouse.

California invader Bordonaro was offered, in his second race, for a $32,000 tag in a maiden heat at Santa Anita. Owners Fred Carrillo and Daniel Cassella can breathe a sigh of relief that he wasn't taken. After winning a pair of optional claiming races, trainer Bill Spawr moved Bordonaro up to stakes company, and the horse has responded with five added-money victories.

Race favorite Henny Hughes ran for the Gulf Coast Stables partnership of Jerry Bailey and Lance Robinson as a 2-year-old, when he won the Saratoga Special (gr. II) and finished second in the Hopeful and Champagne (both gr. I). He was then sold privately to interests in Dubai, and now races for Sheikh Rashid's Zabeel Racing International. Kiaran McLaughlin has picked up the training chores from Patrick Biancone.

Kelly's Landing ran two impressive races to begin his career--a pair of 9 1/4-length wins--before changing hands. Currently owned by John Lally's Summperplace Farm, Kelly's Landing was switched from trainer Tom Bergin to Eddie Kenneally, for whom he has become a multiple graded-stakes winner. He holds the six-furlong Churchill Downs track record, having completed the Aristides Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) in 1:07.59 last year.

Malibu Mint, the only filly in the Sprint, ran her first two races for conditioner Laura Posada at Calder. James Chapman, who owned Malibu Mint for the bulk of her career, took over the training chores as well. Last June at Churchill Downs, Kentucky breeders John and Martha Jane Mulholland noticed the Malibu Moon filly in the paddock, and worked out a private purchase from Chapman, who continues to train Malibu Mint. The filly won the Princess Rooney (gr. I) at Calder a month after the purchase.

Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith owned Pomeroy for his first 15 races. Pomeroy accomplished plenty in that time, winning four graded stakes, including the grade I King's Bishop. Tabor and Smith sold Pomeroy as a stallion prospect to David Hutson's Silverleaf Farms after chips were found in Pomeroy's ankle. After surgery, however, Hutson decided to return Pomeroy to training with conditioner Marty Wolfson, the decision was rewarded when the 5 year old won the Forego (gr. I) in September. The Sprint will likely be his final start.

Late-running Siren Lure has proven extremely popular at the claim box in California, changing hands three times. Trainer Ted West and Desperado Stables lost the gelding for $50,000 early in 2005. New trainer Doug O'Neill ran Siren Lure once, winning a $62,500 event, but losing the horse to trainer John Martin. Martin ran Siren Lure twice, losing him in a $50,000 turf sprint at Bay Meadows last May. Trainer Art Sherman claimed Siren Lure that day and has since been rewarded with six stakes victories. Tony and Marilyn Melkonian and Stuart Kesselman now own the dangerous stretch-runner.

Thor's Echo started out with conditioner Patricia Harrington, who ran the son of Swiss Yodeler twice in Southern California. Thor's Echo was subsequently purchased privately by Royce S. Jaime Racing Stable and Suarez Racing, and moved to Doug O'Neill, giving him two starters in the Sprint.

Bob and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable bought a majority interest in Too Much Bling from trainer/owner Tim Hamm after the horse scored by 19 1/2 lengths in his second lifetime start. Hamm retains a minority ownership position in Too Much Bling through his Blazing Meadow Farm. Bob Baffert, who has a Sprint victory under his belt with Thirty Slews, now trains the horse.

Finally, War Front was trained in his initial two starts by Kiaran McLaughlin before he was moved to the barn of Allen Jerkens, for whom he has run consistently well in graded stakes competition. Joseph Allen owns the son of Danzig.