Tamarkuz rallies to win Dirt Mile
Shadwell Stable’s Tamarkuz took advantage of a hot pace in Friday’s $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita, collaring Gun Runner in midstretch and drawing off to a 3 ½-length decision. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by Mike Smith, the 6-year-old returned a $25.80 win mutuel as the 11-1 fifth choice among nine starters.
“Well, now all the media know why Frosted is running in the Classic. We thought we had one good enough to win the Mile already,” McLaughlin said.
Runhappy showed the way early with 3-5 favorite Dortmund tracking in second through opening splits of :22.45 and :45.37. Gun Runner was also up close, stalking the pace smartly in third as the field made its way down the backstretch, and Tamarkuz rated off the pace in sixth after the opening half-mile.
Runhappy threw in the towel entering the far turn as Dortmund took over, with Gun Runner inching closer to loom as a serious threat. Tamarkuz launched his bid five wide on the final bend, accelerating into contention on the far outside nearing the head of the stretch.
Gun Runner edged past Dortmund as the field entered the stretch, reaching the 6-furlong mark in 1:10 with a head advantage, but Tamarkuz was steadily gaining on the front runners. Tamarkuz forged ahead with about a sixteenth of a mile remaining and proved much the best in deep stretch, stopping the teletimer in 1:35.72.
“He didn’t break real sharp, but Mike did a great job settling him back and Mike’s just a great rider,” McLaughlin said. “He had a lot of confidence in the horse. I was a little nervous when he didn’t break sharp, but it worked out great when the fractions were so fast by Runhappy, it was just a great trip.”
“I had a really good trip, it set up,” Smith added. “There was a lot of pace…when I called on him, he finished like he’s been finishing for me. I really thought he had a good shot today.”
Gun Runner, the 4-1 second choice, save second by a neck, with 42-1 outsider Accelerate getting up in the final strides to grab third by a half-length over Dortmund.
Tom’s Ready, Point Piper, Vyjack, Runhappy and Texas Chrome completed the order of finish.
Second in the Kelso H. (G2) and Forego (G1) in his last two outings, Tamarkuz posted his first U.S. stakes win. The 6-year-old captured a Group 2 and a pair of Group 3 races in Dubai last year. He’s now earned $1,839,825 from a 20-8-4-0 record.