Preparing Kona Gold for the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) is old hat for Bruce Headley.
The 68-year-old trainer is readying the 8-year-old son of Java Gold for his fifth try in the Sprint Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.
Kona Gold won the Sprint in 2000. He has been given a respite since July 6, when he finished sixth in the Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Hollywood Park. But the Kentucky-bred gelding has been working sensationally for what figures to be a daunting task in a race loaded with speed, as usual.
"I feel as confident about Kona Gold's chances as I did the first four times," Headley said Friday morning. "He's been working great, he's feeling great and the break between starts should help him."
Of the Sprint contenders, Headley fears the filly Xtra Heat most. The 4-year-old daughter of Dixieland Heat has captured 24 of 31 starts and has won carrying as much as 128 pounds.
Still, he likes his chances with his old warrior, Kona Gold, not to mention his 6-year-old mare, Kalookan Queen, a winner of 11 of 24 starts, with eight seconds, four thirds and one fourth. Neither horse has ever raced at Arlington, but Headley has taken that into consideration.
"They say Arlington is a sandy track, so I've been training both horses on the training track to get as close as possible (to simulating Arlington's main track)," Headley said.
He added that the post position "always plays a big factor" in the Sprint. "It's always the luck of the draw," Headley said. "I always want to be in the middle, if possible. Pistol (Son of A Pistol in the 1999 Sprint) had just enough speed to be 11-wide (after breaking from post position 11 in a field of 14)."
In other Breeders' Cup developments:
* John Shirreffs thinks there's enough speed in the Distaff to help Starrer, but he's added blinkers as well. "She didn't get the best of trips (finishing second by 3 1/2 lengths to Azeri in the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap, gr. II)," Shirreffs said. "Not only that, but Patrick (Valenzuela) thought blinkers would help her, so we put the blinkers on her when he worked her at Hollywood. She was much more focused. We're hoping a small adjustment will make a big difference."
* Banks Hill, under the supervision of Bobby Frankel following her third-place finish for Andre Fabre in the Yellow Ribbon Stakes (gr. IT), is scheduled to work on Hollywood Park's main track Saturday morning, probably five furlongs, in her final major drill for the Filly & Mare Turf.
* Trainer Richard Mandella said Listen Indy (Juvenile) will work five furlongs "probably just before we leave on the 22nd and The Tin Man (Turf) "will breeze probably Sunday, give or take a day."
* Sprint candidate D'wildcat breezed three furlongs on Santa Anita's fast main track Friday morning in :36.40 under Kent Desormeaux for trainer Bob Hess Jr.