With Horse of the Year Wise Dan’s nine-race winning streak at and end and committed front-runner Obviously hoping for less up front heat, “suddenly,” as Trevor Denman is wont to say, “the whole picture changes.”
That would be in reference to the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a $2-million grass race at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. Wise Dan was a prohibitive favorite for the Mile before he lost to Silver Max in the Shadwell Mile last Saturday, a race taken from turf and moved to Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack due to heavy rains. While still favored, his odds are not likely to plummet further.
Obviously, meanwhile, finished fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the City of Hope Mile Stakes also last Saturday, snapping a three-race winning streak.
With Wise Dan and Obviously stubbing their hooves, hope now rises for the opposition in the Mile, one of whose members is Gary Mandella, trainer of a consistent 4-year-old Kentucky-bred named Silentio
, who captured the Grade II Sir Beaufort Stakes on a “good” Santa Anita turf course last Dec. 26.
Silentio, a son of Silent Name out of the A.P. Indy mare Listen A.P., has never finished worse than fifth in an abbreviated career of eight starts, the last of which came Aug. 25 when he finished third, beaten less than a length, in the Grade II Del Mar Mile Handicap on turf.
Noted that the Mile still shapes up as a salty race, Mandella allowed as to how it was all subjective.
“Well, it depends on how you look at,” said Gary, son of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who made history in 2003 by winning four Breeders’ Cup races at Santa Anita. “With the results of the races last weekend, the Mile is a very wide open race now.
“You have Wise Dan coming in off a loss instead of 10 straight wins. You have Obviously running fourth instead of coming in off of four straight wins, and the best miler in Europe, Moonlight Cloud, is now being considered for a race in Hong Kong instead of the Breeders’ Cup. If the favorites aren’t coming in off their best race, that improves the chances of the other Mile contenders.
“It gives guys like me a little bit of hope that if your horse is doing well at the right time and you get the right trip, you can get lucky. And the Mile is a trip race. There are a number of good horses that should have won that race and didn’t get the right trip.
“Starting 14 horses at that level on a seven-eighths turf course, anything can happen.”