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2013 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: Analyzing The Field

What a turn of events since I penned the Dirt Mile contender list a few weeks ago. First Graydar wasn’t sure, then was pointed to the Classic, followed by a switch to the Dirt Mile, and now he’s not racing at all. Also it appears that Power Broker is missing from the Breeders’ Cup all together. However we had some additions to the field which were pleasing to see such as Taptowne, Brujo de Olleros, and Alpha! For a field which I was scared of being short, this ended up being a very good race. Let’s dive into the 2013 Dirt Mile field!! (Friday 11/1/13, 6:05 ET, 3:05 PT)


#1 – Taptowne – If there is a sentimental favorite in this race, he is it (right CDR?). I watched Taptowne in Chicago a few times and I have always enjoyed watching him run. Here we have a horse that could generate some two-turn early speed, and he does have the rail. As the favorite in his last three races, he has finished well in recent contests including a second place finish to Pants On Fire in the Grade 3 Ack Ack. This horse drilled a 5 furlong work in one minute flat on October 23rd and seems to be ready to give it his all here.


#2 – Golden Ticket – Last year’s Travers winner, Golden Ticket is a horse which we can’t forget about here. On paper it might look like this horse has struggled in some of his races lately, however you only have to look at the competition this horse has faced. He has faced the likes of Mucho Macho Man, Paynter, Fort Larned, and Take Charge Indy. With all of the potential speed up front, Golden Ticket could save ground on the rail and pass some tired horses in the stretch. He has only raced at a mile once, and won.


#3 – Hymn Book – No stranger to graded stakes competition, Hymn Book would seem to fit into this field save for one statistic. This horse is 0-for-10 on a fast dirt surface. Strange huh? He is also 0-for-3 at the one mile distance. So, are these reasons to throw this horse out? He is generally close at the end of the races and perhaps he breaks through here with a favorable pace scenario and some speed into which he can close.


#4 – Brujo de Olleros – Coming to the United States from Uruguay in mid 2012, this horse scored his first North American victory this August in a listed stake at Delaware Park winning by over 6 lengths after being fractious at the beginning of the race. Since that race he missed by only ¾ of a length to Graydar in the Grade 2 Kelso back in September. He has been working at longer distances which seems to me like he is well prepared to make a strong run in the Dirt Mile. He has yet to miss the board at the mile distance.


Here is the 2013 Kelso featuring Brujo de Olleros, Hymn Book, and Graydar.




#5 – Fed Biz – Here’s a horse that knows the Santa Anita oval very well. Fed Biz has three victories at the track and three victories at the mile distance.  He has not raced since August so he is fresh and has been working out well. So what’s not to like here? He did struggle in this same race last year, finishing a disappointing 8th. Is that enough to sway your decision? Said trainer Bob Baffert on Fed Biz’s recent workout, “He’s going to run good on Friday, he’s going to run like he did at Del Mar.”

 

Here is the 2013 Pat O'Brien featuring Fed Biz and Goldencents



#6 – Broadway Empire – This horse definitely wasn’t on my radar to join this field, but you have to give him some consideration. Outside of polytrack races, this horse is perfect on dirt winning by lengths of 3, 4, 7 ¼, and 16 ½ in the maiden breaker! The knock on this horse is that he really hasn’t faced the same competition that the rest of the field has.

 

Broadway Empire wins the 2013 Oklahoma Derby



#7 - Alpha – Here is an unexpected entrant in this field! Outside of Saratoga, and New York in general, this horse has had difficulty winning. Still he is no stranger to Grade 1 stakes quality competition though the mile may not be his best distance. From the Breeders' Cup notes, "He’s got a good look out of his eye and he’s very bright,” said Jimmy Bell, Godolphin’s representative on the scene and head of operations for Darley Racing America. “It was great to see him get another Grade 1 win (in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga in August).” Bell cautioned against overlooking the earner of $1,779,167 in this race.


Alpha wins the 2013 Woodward Stakes




#8 – Holy Lute – This three year old is relatively new to the stakes scene finishing third to Power Broker in the Indiana Derby a few weeks ago. Joining the Breeders’ Cup field is a huge jump in competition but the horse has been running well, working well, and could surprise here.


#9 – Centralinteligence – It’s no secret that when trainer Ron Ellis teams up with jockey Victor Espinoza that wins seem easy to come by. However in the case of Centralinteligence, the mile distance might be a little too far. You wouldn’t think so by looking at the pedigree, however this horse has been running at sprint distances except once; a 7th place finish at Del Mar in 2011.


#10 – Verrazano – On paper, this horse looks like the one to beat. Verrazano’s only two losses were in the Kentucky Derby, and at Saratoga (the graveyard of favorites) in the Travers. Otherwise, he has dominated his competition. He’s been on the shelf since the Travers but has been working well at Belmont. What’s there not to like here?

 

Verrazano impressive in the Haskell



#11 – Pants on Fire – Here’s a very interesting horse to consider in this race. Pants on Fire and jockey Paco Lopez have teamed up lately and have had some recent success. “I wish I knew what has made the difference this year,” said trainer Kelly Breen. “We’re still doing things the exact same way we have since he was two. For some reason, he’s just decided to put it all together this year.” Coming off of a lifetime best Beyer speed figure and posting decent workouts, it seems that this horse is in tip top shape. Add two wins in a row with four wins on dirt at the mile distance and you could have a winner.


#12 – Goldencents – After competing in a couple of classic races, trainer Doug O’Neill gave Goldencents a bit of a rest. On the comeback trail he has run in sprint races finishing second three times in a row. Now as a three-time beaten favorite he stretches back out to a two-turn mile where he has one victory over two tries at that distance. He also has two victories in four tries at Santa Anita overall. Still, he has faces some tough company this season and I think he’s ready to go the extra distance. Assistant trainer Steve Rothblum said of Goldencents, “He's tailor-made to be a miler," said Rothblum. "His natural speed comes into play."


#13 – Easter Gift – According to the Breeders’ Cup notes team, “Trainer Chad Brown said Tuesday that the 4yo colt Easter Gift was not shipped from New York and will not compete in the Breeders’ Cup. The son of Hard Spun is on the also-eligible list for the Dirt Mile.”


Probable Pace Scenario – There is no doubt in my mind with the speed and the inside post that Taptowne will be quick to go to the lead. He might get some early pressure from Golden Ticket, Fed Biz or Alpha going around the first turn. I see Verrazano trying to make a quick run to that same turn to establish position three or four wide. With the outside post Pants on Fire and Goldencents should be able to cut in and save some ground on the rail running just off the pace. Brujo de Olleros should be in the mix on the backstretch as well. Here though I see a horse with the class to win from just off the pace taking this one home.


My Pick – In this race I’m going to box an exacta with Goldencents, Golden Ticket, and Pants on Fire.


 

 

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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: Analyzing The Field...

I'm all in on Verrazano for this race, but if there is one spoiler I like for an upset its Taptowne
This spot seemed to be a Hail Mary decision for Easter Gift, Golden Ticket, and Alpha. I'm also surprised to see Centralinteligence here rather than in the Sprint. Top picks for this race are Verrazano and Fed Biz with Pants On Fire making some noise as well.
Pace sets up beautifully for Goldencents. The Brazilian import (Brujo de Ollleros) is intriguing sort while Centralintelligence (someone check my temperature) could shock the world!
I'm planning to box Goldencents with Verrazno. I do like Taptowne as well, saw him in the Ack Ack.
Good luck, Chris. Its a wide open race, but I lean toward Brujo de Olleros to get up late. I also think Holy Lute is a sneaky long shot. His first dirt start was half way across the country on a sloppy track. It was a good race, but I think he's going to improve off that with the home court advantage.

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