The second Breeders Cup race on Friday is the Dirt Mile, led by Mor Spirit and Sharp Azteca, the 1-2 finishers from the Met Mile.
Previously – Juvenile Fillies Turf
Audio – I previewed the Friday Breeders Cup races here with my friend Steve Falk.
Breeders Cup Dirt Mile
We’ve said before that we would get rid of this race – it’s usually more of a Grade 2-3 race that could detract from the Classic and/or the Sprint, but to be fair this is a pretty strong version of the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.
Sharp Azteca and Mor Spirit come out of the Met Mile, where Mor Spirit bested his rival that day in a slow-paced, but fast finish (Mor Spirit got a 117 Beyer) version of the top mile race of the year. However, Mor Spirit hasn’t been seen since then and has worked six straight times from the gate, indicating that Bob Baffert has had a tougher time getting him ready to run. He’s one we’ll use defensively but try to beat on top. Sharp Azteca meanwhile has run three straight big figures, though has benefited from a slow pace in the Met Mile, Monmouth Cup and Kelso (though he did beat subsequent Bold Ruler winner Tom’s Ready in the Kelso). Sharp Azteca did run a huge race in Dubai and has run well in California before, but he’ll have to deal with some other pace rivals. We’ll use him, but will try to beat him.
With some questions about the first two runners, the horse to beat is probably Accelerate, who is 3-4 at Del Mar and turns back from the Pacific Classic where he was third to Collected and Arrogate. He’s run 109 and 110 Beyers since adding blinkers. He’ll have to track and finish, but on this track at this distance, he’s the one to beat.
Practical Joke is 5-5 going one-turn and 0-5 going two-turns. While this is a flat mile, he’s also drawn very poorly on the far outside. He always fires, but he’ll probably be a shorter price than some other alternatives.
One of those alternatives is Awesome Slew, who won the Ack Ack last time at Churchill. Previously, he was compromised by a slow pace set by Drefong in the Forego and ran into an in-form Mind Your Biscuits two-back in the Belmont Sprint. He was also hurt by the slow pace in the Met Mile. He has some two-turn form from last year too. We’ll use.
The other longshot we’ll use a little bit is Battle of Midway. You can safely toss his Haskell, where he broke slowly and rushed up on a bad rail. After a nice win (albeit in a weak field) here, he had a tough trip in the Oklahoma Derby where he was in tight, shuffled back, and then moved early. It was better than it looked. Though he’ll have to still improve to win, he can hit the board.
#8 Accelerate (7-2)
#5 Awesome Slew (12-1)
#3 Sharp Azteca (9-2)
#9 Battle of Midway (10-1)