Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Nomination Is In: Breeders' Cup Saturday Breeders' Cup "Dirt" Mile Grade I

The fully stretched out and magnificent Mastercraftsman is pictured to the left, today's overwhelming Morning Line and Turk Chalk in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. I don't rant too much and I prefer to leave that to others that do it better then The Turk, but the idea that these races are called "Dirt" I find even more ridiculous then the renamed "Ladies Classic". It's not dirt and it does not feel like dirt to dirt horses, the surface of choice in American racing for 140 odd years. It doesn't matter what my anecdotal opinion of polytrack is, its irrelevant what I think about that, but it isn't irrelevant that we refer to these races as being "dirt" races. Why not call it the Poly Mile or the Synthetic Mile, or the Turk's favorite "The Fake Dirt that may or may not be safer for horses Mile". It ain't Dirt. OK, I digress.

Race 7 at Santa Anita post Time 5:12 ET; The Breeders' Cup Fake Dirt Mile Grade I; 1 Mile on a surface that is anything but Dirt for 3 YOs and Up.

Mastercraftsman (Ire) comes to the United States and is most likely happy to notr see a horse named See the Stars on the PP with him for this outing. A Grade I winner this year and a 1 length loser to See the Stars in August and a well beaten Show in September. Trainer O'Brien has had incredible success in Europe but is cold in North America, with an 0-11 first time North American win percentage, and 0-9 in Graded Stakes in North America in the past year. 8 of 10 lifetime in the money on turf and one win, his last race out, on poly. I don't think the field is overpowering and I expect he will win handily.

I really struggled to identify the second best horse in this race and I finally settled on Bullsbay. We give the Euro's credit for losing to See the Stars and we should give Bullsbay credit for losing to Rachel Alexandra and running gamely with Macho Again the last few times out. A flawed horse to be sure, and poly results aren't earth shattering, but we will hang our base handicap with him here and hedge him down on many tickets.

Mr. Sidney is a stretch in this spot as well, but I like his work on Turf, with 5 wins in 9 tries and I think he's run well on yielding turf as well. A late break off the pace I expect could propel him into one of the top four spots.

Furthest Land comes in off a big effort at 1 1/8 on poly for a Grade II win, posting a 106 BSF in the process. Nothing else in his PP makes you think he was capable of that. trainer Maker has some really WOW stats himself, 29% winners with horses on a 2nd effort off 45 day layoff, 30% winners on fake dirt, 29% winners on 31-60 day layoffs, 30% won last start and 29% of route races. One big red flag; 8% of Graded Stakes on only 24 starts. Ugh, a big fish swimming mostly in shallow water, and I mean no disrespect to a fine horseman. 5 wins in 2009 for the son of Smart Strike.

Midshipman has the potential to win this race and at the right number on the tote board I'll take a $4 chance on him. I'd have him higher but why? 1 start in 2009 as a 3 YO, an N3X on dirt with a sub 100 BSF, in fact he's never broken 100. This Unbridled's Song son coulda, shoulda been something special and it just hasn't happened since Baffert beat a weak group of 2 YOs with him last year to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. So much promise, how huge would this win be to his legacy? Huge. Gomez up for Godolphin. It's up to the horse who has been spotted drifting erracticly during work. Possible equipment change to blinkers.

Neko Bay and Chocolate Candy are poly warriors but both have yet to do much on the big stage. We haven't even mentioned which Pyro will show up today.

Have Fun, Turk Out!

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