Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Preview – By Drew Coatney

Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile

By Drew Coatney

This race has to start with the elephant in the room: is Life Is Good still as good as he was during his two year old campaign? Trainer changes aside, one can’t but pause at the H. Allen Jerkens performance that left Mike Smith with very little horse underneath him going 7f. I do appreciate the PP comment line (“overconfident handling”) as I think that will be the scapegoat for the betting public to justify that defeat. The public will be quick to forgive the horse for that effort as “Smith screwed up”, but that’s just hubris when we look ahead for clues. The most recent race the horse looked washed out and faced a very weak bunch, signaling this horse is not thriving and ready for a peak race. So to recap our recent data points on Life Is Good: was handled oddly on debut for the Pletcher Barn, prepped for this Breeders’ Cup race with a weak allowance bunch, and is a three year old facing a bunch of proven horses for the first time. Not a recipe to instill confidence to bet at a short price. “But what about those flashy two year old triple digit Beyers?” says the betting public. Well I have not seen anything in this three year old campaign that gives me confidence this horse has taken well to the Pletcher barn nor taken that critical three year old step forward to beat the elders.

How I’m betting this race: because we’re fading such a short priced horse, the win pool is a great opportunity to make money as the odds to our fair value will be greatly skewed when we think a runner like Life Is Good has a 4-1 chance of winning. For the horizontal plays, I’ll use a few backups for a penny with 3,6,8 and 8 with heavier weighting on the #3 and #8.

 

  • Most Logical/Good Win Bet Opportunity: #1 Silver State (7/2, value line 5/2) Gets the absolute best post draw for this distance with the short run up to the first tight turn. In most other track configurations, this horse would get shuffled back as they run down to the first turn over the furlong or so. Thankfully at Del Mar for Silver State, there won’t be enough time for the outside speed horses to establish position unless they want to be traveling wide or use a ton of energy out of the gates quarter horsing. I expect a few bold early attempts to pass Silver State wide as they exit the first turn, letting Silver State conserve energy along the backstretch. This easy trip will set up brilliantly for a big move entering the far turn. If this horse is within 3 lengths of the leader along the backstretch, this race is over and won by Silver State. One could ask what the heck happened last out… that replay has me scratching my head and wondering why the PP lines don’t say “jockey thought he had it won at the 100yd mark and wrapped up for a few jumps only to be passed late by the Grade One winning horse Mind Control”. My trip notes show this was the most impressive runner, breaking terribly, catching all the dirt, and making a long sustained bid into the slow pace. Big upgrade on that figure earned and could easily be a few points higher with a better trip and smarter ride. All other logical signs point this one is ready: 3rd off layoff, sharp workout tab, proven winner over the distance.

 

  • Long Shot Use: #8 Eight Rings (10-1, value line 8-1) Hard to overlook the upward trend in the last three starts for the Beyers. The corresponding workout tab looks to be peaking at the right time, so can we expect a triple digit Beyer today? Bob has plenty of motivation to get this win, so I’m banking this horse has still some upside left. Will need to step forward, but in Baffert’s hands I trust. For those wondering if Baffert is off-stride, he’s been winning at 34% in the past three months (30 wins out of 87 starts) while winning 33% of graded stakes (7 out of 21 starts) on dirt over the same time.

 

  • Other Runner Commentary
    • #2 Pingxiang (12-1) Heavily favored in the last two events and barely sneaking away with the win in just one out of two starts. Stretches out to the full mile and will face even tougher. Hard to make a case to back this runner.
    • #3 Ginobili (4-1) Perplexing horse for bettors, winning at nice prices in the last two races. I can’t take this horse here because the previous two wins have been done with easy leads and limited adversity.  The last race running lines show this horse was stalking the pace, but that horse setting the pace finished last and caused zero issues for Ginobili. Today will face much more early speed from runners like Life Is Good and have to try and outgun them. I just don’t see this horse being the best of speed, the needed recipe for this winner.
    • #4 Jasper Prince (30-1) Letting the morning line dictate my opinion and has yet to race at a mile. The lone Keeneland visit in 2020 was a flop at 70-1. Interestingly these connections show up again after that beat down, but can’t back.
    • #5 Life Is Good (4/5) See race intro above.
    • #6 Restrainedvengence (20-1) Think this horse has a bright future running at the 9f events. Today won’t have enough tactical speed to stay in touch with this field to make an impact (remember these Del Mar tight turns are hard on deep closers). Maybe a reverse tri key to lock in as the third place runner because this is the lone closer here.
    • #7 Snapper Sinclair (12-1) Oddball showing up on dirt and hard to gauge where this runner stacks up. Has yet to run a triple digit Beyer on the dirt in this horse’s career, so hard to back a horse with exposed form.

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