Liam's Map runs off the map in Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile
by Laura Pugh
Those who believe Liam’s Map was sitting on a big race coming into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile had their hunch proven right, though I don’t believe even they could have foreseen the effort the son of Unbridled’s Song would unleash. Liam’s Map did not just win the Dirt Mile, nor did he merely dominate his foes…he annihilated them.
While he won the race in spectacular fashion, many fans probably began to rip their tickets when they saw the typically speedy grey break a step slow, and then proceed to stead behind a wall of horses.
It was obvious that Liam’s Map had a giant target on his back, as his competition took advantage of his slow start by boxing him in and causing him to steady several times throughout the race. When Javier Castellano tried to move his mount to a small seam to his outside, highly regarded Lea got the jump on him and sealed him in once more.
Around the turn the colt was still boxed in, and he wouldn’t make his way out until it was seemingly too late. At the top of the stretch, Liam’s Map finally found running room, but he had to go about four wide, giving away precious ground to Lea, who already had a sizable lead.
Continuing on his left lead, Liam’s Map forged ahead, unfazed by his early troubles. Deep in the stretch he collared Lea and proceeded to draw away, hitting the wire about four lengths ahead of Lea.
Castellono sang his mount’s praises as he rode back to the winner’s circle: “He showed today that he was an amazing horse, today, that he has great skill. He was in behind horses and he settled beautiful and he gave me a good run today.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher was pleased with Liam’s Map.
“I thought it was a tremendously impressive effort. I was concerned the whole way, but one thing that gave me encouragement was that every time something went wrong he just kept jumping back into the bridle. It was a great effort by a great horse.”
Indeed, it was a great effort, great enough to make many wonder if instead of racing today in the Dirt Mile, he should have been racing tomorrow in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Liam's Map photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography