Breeders’ Cup Preview: Dirt Mile & Distaff – October 29, 2013

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Matt Carter

October 29th, 2013

The two legs of the Friday late pick-4 at the Breeders’ Cup is the $1-million Dirt Mile and the day’s feature race, the $2-million Distaff, and thank you to those that changed the name back from the Ladies’ Classic.

The Dirt Mile goes as race eight and drew a field of 12 with one horse on the also-eligible list. That horse, Easter Gift, was said to have not made the trip to Santa Anita; however, so we will just look at the body of the field. The morning line favorite for the race is Verrazano, a three-year-old for Todd Pletcher that has won six of his eight career starts including the Grade 1 Haskell and Grade 1 Wood Memorial. In the six editions of the Dirt Mile only one three-year-old has won and Verrazano is coming off a terrible performance in the Travers back in August. This is not an easy spot for his return.

Those looking to upset the favorite should consider Hymn Book, Brujo de Olleros, Broadway Empire, Centralinteligence, Pants On Fire and Goldencents. Pants On Fire and Goldencents are 6-1 and 4-1 on the morning line, but drew poor posts positions in gates 11 and 12. They will need to work out a trip with a short run to the first turn.

Hymn Book and Brujo de Olleros exit the Kelso where they chased gate to wire winner Graydar. Brujo de Olleros is the preferred pick making his third start off the layoff. Broadway Empire is expected to set the pace while Centralinteligence is a sneaky play in his second start off the layoff.

The Distaff only drew a field of six, but a case can be made for five of them. Of course, they will all need to beat the two-time defending champion, Royal Delta.

Jockey Mike Smith may have surprised everyone last year when he went straight to the lead, but there will be no easy leads on Friday with the speedy Beholder drawn directly outside of her. Beholder knows only one way to go, and that’s to the lead. Close Hatches and Authenticity are two that will be right behind the top pair and will get first run on the favorites. The choice for the race; however, is the three-year-old filly, Princess of Sylmar.

The Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Majestic Warrior is on a four-race win streak and all of them are Grade 1 races. She won the Kentucky Oaks in May then reeled off victories in the Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame Invitational. In the Beldame she beat Royal Delta and just ran away from her. It was expected that would be the last race of 2013 for Princess of Sylmar, but she came out of that race with a lot left and will be a handful to hold off late.

The 30th running of the Distaff may be one of the best.

First post on Friday at Santa Anita is 1:40 pm ET with the Juvenile Turf off at 5:25. The first Breeders’ Cup race is the Marathon, which goes to post at 4:45. Post time for the Dirt Mile is 6:05.