BC Dirt Mile – Grade I
SA Race #10 1m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $1,000.000 For Three Year Olds And Upward.
1 Lionking Invader Estero Farms Court J K
last six races: 004023
3 y o black gelding by Greek God and bred by LionKing Stables
It feels like this three year old should’ve won more than three races, certainly when you consider his good win in the Swale at the beginning of the year. Beaten a nose in the BG Stakes he was fancied for the KYD but ran abysmally in the slushy ground and then after a rest didnt do much better in the BEL. He ran much better next out when fourth in the Queens Plate but has since only battled in longer distance routes. I think going back to this mile will suit but it is hard to make a confident case for him even though he has a fair draw. If he can stalk the pace like he did in the Swale then he may have a hope and at his best there is no reason he cant give Estero Farms a decent run.
2 Di Farley Gdp Inc Sanchez M J
Last six races 000100
4 y o bay gelding by Di Medici and bred by Gdp Inc
A bit of a shock winner in this race last year he gets the same draw today and if ever he is going to repeat that massive performance it will be from this coveted number two gate. To be fair if you took that victory in this race out of his record then you wouldnt be that confident in his chances but much the same could’ve been said last year. After a good win in the San Carlos at the start of the year he looked set for a good season but he has been a shade disappointing since getting switched between sprinting and routing in an effort to find his form. Strangely being the current BC Dirt Mile champ he has only raced over this distance twice in his life so here is a little story to be written here if he can manage to defend his crown.
3 Compress Mb Stables Gaffalione T
last six races 202100
6 Y O bay horse by Crush and bred by Cherrytree Hill Farm
The winner of four grade one’s he built his reputation on turf after failing to win a TC race as a three year old. Third twice in the BC Mile on grass he was bought from Cherrytree Hill Farm at the start of this year after a winless season in 2018. The new owner had always said he thought the horse would be as good on dirt as he had been on turf and proved the point very quickly when he trounced the field in the Metropolitan Handicap. Since then he failed in both the Whitney and the WO Mile but didnt run badly in either and it really wouldnt be a surprise to see him at the sharp end in this race.
The horse and trainer are big race specialists and a great draw gives this six year old a huge chance of a long overdue Breeders Cup win.
4 Sonador Night Rider Stables Bridgmohan S X
Last six races 100131
5 Y O gelding by Spanish Serenade and bred by Frozen Tundra
Well at the end of last year this five year old was being claimed from a one mile dirt claimer and 3 months later was winning the grade two GP Mile over the same trip. His running style hadnt changed but his adds were and he is a fine example of how this game can change a horse with a few clicks of the mouse. Though he struggled to follow that win up he did bounce back last time winning The Kelso Handicap off top weight which was a big performance. This is a step up again and he is one of those rags to riches stories that make for great races.
He gets all favors from the draw again, i guess he is just lucky when it comes to good draws and gets the same rider that won on him last time out.
5 Burning Approval Mb Stables Bejarano R
Last 6 races: 022111
3 Y O Gelding by Niner Forty Niner and bred by Mb Stables
Three year olds are still tough to beat even at this time of year as we see every season in the BC when they tend to dominate. This is a very good three year old having won his last three, the last two of those being in grade ones. He beat the KYD winner in The Travers in the start before last and then again in the PA Derby last time and would’nt have looked out of place if he had taken his chance in the Classic. With so many qualifiers for the BC though someone has to take the low road and this one was chosen probably because of his on pace style and pace to be able to be effective over this mile.
I’ll be honest with the jockey of the season, the trainer who just about wins everything and two grade one wins heading in to this, add that to a good draw and the three year old weight allowance and he may well look a little unbeatable.
I guess the only chink in the armor may be the mile as he has never won over this trip but i doubt if it will be that that beats if if anything does.
6 Unfold Fractious Hernandez R M
Last six races: 021100
3 Y O gelding by Lannisport and bred by Fractious
A cast off from the Mb Stable who had to sell off some of his qualified horses that he didnt rate highly enough he is by no means a no hoper and has the ability to leave the champion trainer red faced. Bred by Fractious it cost him $300 to get him back after selling him to Mb for less than $8 so i dont think the champion trainer will be too upset if he does win.
With just eleven starts he is pretty unexposed and was only three parts of a length behind Burning Approval in the PA Derby. With wins in the Dandy and the OH Derby as well as a decent effort in the Travers the same issues around the trip that apply to his former stable mate apply to his chances. It will all come down to who gets the best trip between these two and they are both drawn well enough to make it very interesting.
7 Royal Eclipse Chili King Stables Leparoux J R
Last six races: 032000
4 Y O black gelding by Orange Eclipse and bred by Allinthegate
He hasnt won in seven starts this year so its fairly surprising to see him in the field but he does have some fair form and his chances shouldnt be dismissed out of hand. He was only beaten a head in the Foster Handicap and ran well when fifth in the Woodward so the ability is there i just can’t see enough in his form to see him winning.
8 Il Assets Gdp Inc Velez J I
Last 6 races: 200402
4 Y O bay gelding by II Capitano and bred by Smokey Stover
You have to wonder firstly how on earth this one made it into the premier dirt mile race of the year and secondly how on earth he could possibly win. I am afraid the answer is i dont know on both counts but he does add a string to the trainers bow if they decide to use this one to help out the stable mate. He did finish second in the Californian back in April but has since been beaten in three consecutive claimers and whilst the class system may be pretty poor at HRP it seems a stretch to see him with any chance.
As a foot note he did actually work nearly a half second faster than Burning Approval for the six furlongs a couple of weeks ago so hey this is HRP and just about anything can happen.
9 Nice Distorted Laff Night Rider Stables Maragh Ro
Last 6 races: 201130
5 Y O grey gelding by Nice Laff and bred by LionKing Stables
The stable has a strong hand in this race with two horses that they claimed very cheaply and have since made a killing with. This one is probably the more accomplished having gone from a $5 claimer to a two time graded stakes winner. He took The Eclipse back in May and then followed up in the San Diego Handicap off top weight and whilst those werent the hottest grade two’s ever his seventh beaten just a length in the Awesome Again last time out was a fair effort.
He’s a consistent sort who always tries his best and with a 1.36 work for the mile at the beginning of October there’s no reason he cant give a good account of herself.
10 Chrystal Believer Maxmillion Farm Centeno D E
Last 6 races: 200010
3 Y O chestnut colt by Chrystal Coin and bred by Maxmillion Farm
This is one of the few top two year olds that has managed to last through to the BC and despite a poor draw will certainly be among the favorites. Third in the DMR Futurity, second in the Pharaoh he then led the BC Juvenile for a long way before weakening into seventh. He finished the season off with a win in the LA Futurity which sealed an excellent season and made him an early fancy for the KYD. Things went well in the lead up as he won the San Felipe and then ran a close second in the SA Derby but he drew wide in the KYD and could only finish eighth. He drew better in the Preakness and ran much better to be sixth beaten less than a length but couldnt back that effort up in The Haskell when a well beaten 12th. Back to the mile in the Longacres he easily beat a small field but was back to ordinary in the Super Derby in his last start.
On the face of it his form is tailing off and he may be feeling the effects of a tough early season but at his best he has a touch of class and would be good enough to win from this bad gate.
11 Red Cup Our Athletes Van Dyke D
Last 6 races: 000410
3 Y O chestnut colt by Quench and bred by Our Athletes
This one and Chrystal Believer were locked together as two year olds with Red Cup coming out on top in the BC Juvenile when third and then Chrystal Believer on top in the LA Futurity when Red Cup was fourth. Their paths crossed again as three year olds as Red Cup went on the TC trail and there wasnt much between them again with Red Cup finishing second in the San Felipe and then eleventh in the Derby. He failed in the BEL but ran much better in The Haskell before a gutsy win in the O Brien. In his last start he was only beaten three lengths in the Awesome Again but was well back in the field and probably because of that ends up here rather than the Classic.
I have no idea why but for some reason this horse just can’t catch a break from the so called random draw generator. He drew wide in the SA Derby, the KYD and the BEL and when he got a fair draw ran much better in the Haskell and the O Brien before another wide draw in the Awesome Again. The problem is he gets another wide draw today and whilst that probably makes him the unluckiest horse in training history tells us that it negatively affects his chances.
12 Shootfromthehip Nakamura Stables Beschizza A
Last 6 races: 104040
5 Y O bay gelding by Knowledge Geek and bred by Nakamura Stables
I loved watching this one in his KYD winning season, his battles with Ginger Haggis were a highlight of the year. Since then his form has tailed off a little and whilst he is still a tough and classy sort he is nowhere near the horse he was as a three year old. His works are still solid but his form apart from a solid fourth in the SD Handicap and a good win in the Mineshaft Handicap hasnt quite been as good as he will need for this race. The wide draw really puts the nail in the coffin.
13 Five Little Pigs Nolespan Racing Franco G
Last 6 races: 312313
5 Y O balck gelding by Triumphenstein and bred by Tacaro Farm
Another of those rags to riches stories that seem to happen with alarming regularity at HRP he was claimed from a $5 claimer just 7 months ago and today finds himself looking to become the champion dirt miler in the game. Despite being beaten in a claimer in his first start for the new owner he was stepped up in class rather than down and managed third in the All American before a rather shocking win in the PRM Cornhusker Handicap. His remarkable rise didnt stop there however because in his last start he ran third in the grade one Whitney to put a further nail in the class system’s coffin. From this gate i cant see him beating the best of these but he would be a great story and has proved he can live with good horses.
14 Admiration Mb Stables Velazquez J R
Last 6 races: 121431
3 Y O bay gelding by Aggravation and bred by Jader Stable
Mb Stables got two good draws but i am sure he would swap both of them to get this one into an inside gate. It just goes to show the ridiculous strength of the stable that this horse goes in the mile rather than the Classic. There wouldnt be a trainer in this game or real life that would consider the winner of the SA Derby, The BEL and the Awesome Again better off running for 5K less than he could have but Mb Stables is that good its hard to double guess his reasons.
So back to his chances over this mile and whilst he has certainly proved himself over further there seems no reason he couldnt run this mile. The elephant in the room however is this draw but the BC can be more like a game of rugby with 14 runners and the outside can prove an advantage to a horse good enough to do the work. We must not forget that he won the SA Derby on this very track from the 12 gate so he may just pull it off again.
Well the easy pick here is just boxing up the Mb Stables runners but you could probably say that for all the BC races so i wont be that boring. So can anything split them up? Well the rest of the field is pretty even but i rather like the former Mb Stables runner Unfold who will appreciate the better gate and if you want to get silly and win the Pick Em with one race then gamble on the 1.10 flat work from II Assets.