By: John Pinder
Race #5: The Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (Dirt – 1 Mile) 3 YO+
Purse: $1 Million
The last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile have been won by the fastest horse in the field going straight to the lead and leaving nothing to chance. The fractions seem almost impossible to maintain but the leader was able to sustain and pull away in the stretch. I don’t think that we have a Knicks Go or a Life is Good caliber runner in this year’s field from a pure speed perspective, but I do think that strategy will play into the minds of the connections. The one-mile distance and two turn configuration are the factors that will be the wild cards in this year’s race, in my humble opinion. Many of the race’s top runners are stretching out or cutting back and will have to adjust their previous preferred style of attack to be successful. Those are also subtleties that should allow us to find the precious “V-word”, Value.
Let’s take a look at the top contenders based on the morning line and consider their chances.
Gunite has stepped up his game from a speed figure standpoint since returning to the races this year. There are a couple of reasons for pause with this 3 year-old Asmussen trainee. All of his successful races have been less than a mile and he has never gone around two turns. In addition to the fact that he seems to be better running from off the pace, he is not a toss but would need to increase significantly in betting odds for me to consider for the win. Cody’s Wish is a great story and a fabulous runner but will also have to answer similar questions that we posed for Gunite. Cody’s Wish seems to be a bit more versatile and can make his own trip, the hesitation are the odds at which he is projected to be at post time. Laurel River is a very solid runner for Bob Baffert and will be ridden by Irad Ortiz, who always seems to do exceptionally well on big days, not that he doesn’t do that day in and day out. Cyberknife could have run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic but his connections opted not to face Flightline. He is a very logical contender but he is cutting back to the distance after a very hard-nose campaign where he faced all of the big boys in the 3-year-old division. My concern is: Did all those classic distances take a little starch out? Those are the top runners based on the morning line which seem to be in line with their win probabilities.
The runners that we will discuss now will be greater in odds than their win chances and should be considered for their value.
Simplification has shown talent but has yet to put it all together; cutting back in distance and getting the services of Luis Saez could be the missing variables to the winning formula. Okay that was a bad math pun, but I do think that he has serious win potential and is an excellent underneath key for your vertical wagers. Pipeline is a talented son of Speightstown who also is looking to find his niche. Last time out he went toe to toe with the speedster Jackie’s Warrior before relegating to third. If given the opportunity Pipeline could take them from gate to wire.
This year’s Dirt Mile is intriguing from a handicapping standpoint and your opinion can greatly vary based on how you feel about one or two factors. There are some races throughout the 2 days racing festival that is the Breeders’ Cup where you look at the past performances and the winner seems to jump off the page, this is not one of them. Get good value and Let’s Make it Happen!