Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Preview
Have gone back and forth with what to do with Liam’s Map – the same horse from the Whitney (G1) and Woodward (G1) threatens to run the competition off their feet but the natural spot for the 1 1/8-mile star appeared to be the Classic (G1), where the son of Unbridled’s Song wouldn’t be the only horse trying 10 furlongs for the first time (Honor Code is the most notable). The lightly-raced 4-year-old colt shows an 11-day gap between recent works and I’m questioning whether he’ll show up in the same form as we witnessed at Saratoga. Liam’s Map will be used in multi-race wagers but at extremely short odds (even-money morning line), I’ll try to beat him for the top spot.
1ST: RED VINE (6-1) brings a string of seven consecutive triple-digit BRIS Speed ratings into the Dirt Mile, posting figs of 104-107-106 during a three-race stretch at or near the same distance, and he may have been best in the Kelso H. (G2) last out, stumbling and getting squeezed back at the start before rallying for runner-up honors. The Christophe Clement trainee figures to receive a ground-saving trip from his rail post, just behind the early speed with Joel Rosario, and he can pounce in the latter stages.
2ND: LIAM’S MAP (even) could get clear in the early stages and prove impossible to run down, but there is speed to his inside in Bradester and to the outside in Mr. Z and Valid. Those rivals don’t want to allow the heavy favorite an uncontested advantage and Liam’s Map could be softened up a little for the top choice. The Todd Pletcher charge remains very dangerous, with a 3-for-3 mark at the distance and terrific BRIS numbers, but he’ll offer no value and questions linger entering the race.
3RD: LEA (8-1) is also three-for-three at the distance and the Grade 1 winner finished third in the Dubai World Cup (G1) earlier this year. However, trainer Bill Mott entered the 6-year-old as first preference for the Mile on turf following a runner-up in the September 13 Woodbine Mile (G1), with the Dirt Mile as a back-up plan, and ultimately decided the former was too tough for Lea. The chestnut has not displayed much tactical speed in recent starts and never fired finishing a well-beaten sixth in his last dirt attempt (Whitney). Lea possesses plenty of back class, but he could leave himself too much to do from off the pace and I’m not sure whether he’s sharp enough presently to offer his best.
Longshot: STREET STRATEGY (50-1) has the look of a live longshot for the exotics. The improving four-year-old exits a pair of nice wins over allowance foes, including a smart performance over the track and distance where he offered an eye-catching turn of foot on the far turn. He’ll be tested for class in this spot, but I’ll include Street Strategy underneath in the vertical exotics.
Red Vine photo courtesy of Ryan Denver/Equi-Photo