Dirt Mile Top 10 - July 8th
1. Smooth Air
2. Rail Trip
3. Georgie Boy
4. Albertus Maximus
5. Big Drama
7. Monterey Jazz
8. My Pal Charlie
9. Mythical Power
10. Wishful Tomcat
I think this is one of the worst races on the Breeders' Cup card because the field is mostly comprised of second stringers. Horses that find the Classic, Sprint or Mile too tough will end up in this race. It'll still be a great betting affair but it's not a championship race and figuring out who is going to target this race could be tricky.
The race has a very brief history but one common thread is that both of the winners of this race had shown proficiency at a mile and form that was a bit more sketchy beyond a mile. The last three stakes races beyond 8f that Albertus Maximus ran yielded a 3rd, 4th and 8th. Corinthian's last three longer races saw him get 4th, 6th and 5th. So as we watch the buildup to these races don't be too put off my poor form at longer races. There aren't many mile races to go around and if these horses had done well in longer races they'd be in the Classic.
Smooth Air was a Classic also-ran last year but I think connections have decided that a mile is his niche. He has had 4 starts this year and they have all come at a mile. He hasn't been any worse than second in any of those races and he's been earning some very strong figures. He's had the misfortune of facing some track specialists in his last two races at Monmouth and Belmont but he performed with credit. I think he's the horse to beat in any mile race run from now until the end of the year. He has not won a race on synthetics but he did earn a 102 Beyer while not staying in the Classic. He handled the surface just fine, he simply failed failed to get the distance. His tactical speed might be a big advantage because of all the speedy milers we seem to have this year.
I know the connections of Rail Trip would really like to see him in the Classic but I think his best chance is in this race. Hollywood is often kind to speed so I don't necessarily think he should do poorly in this weekend's Gold Cup but in the Classic he might struggle unless he's the lone speed. At a mile he'll be a bear even if horses like Monterey Jazz, Big Drama and Wishful Tomcat are in the race. He was a brilliant horse right from the start of his career. He's never run a bad race and with the careful handling his connections have shown so far I think he'll always be ready to fire if he's entered. Informed did manage to beat Rail Trip recently but I think he's a bit more likely for the Classic and I also think that it was a bit of a fluke. Rail Trip will usually bet him but he's dangerous when he gets some pace to run at.
I'm not sure if Georgie Boy will be up to this physically but if he ends up getting healthy and choosing this race over the Sprint he'll be tough to beat. He's a classy horse with a very quick move. It has served him well in races from 6f to 8.5f. A flat mile will be no problem for him in fact it just might be his best distance.
The defending champion Albertus Maximus is certainly a contender again this year. But after he won the Donn Handicap he may have convinced his connections to go for the Classic. I thought his mile was a shade below top class last year and in my mind there is a big gap between him and the top three.
Big Drama is a versatile horse and it's hard to figure out what shape his campaign will take on. Synthetics are a worry but he's a win machine on dirt. His Calder based connections may not be thrilled about sending him to California to take on a new surface but if they do he'd have to be respected.
I have Monterey Jazz down as a more likely competitor in the turf version of the mile but he also fits here. His speed is blinding and dangerous. He can even out foot Rail Trip early on. Early last year he was basically uncatchable until he tried 10f. You cannot ignore the Jazz.
My Pal Charlie ran very well in last year's BC Dirt Mile and he's been well respected ever since but he's winless in his last 7 races. He always runs well but he's having problems closing the deal. If he continues his winless streak he could be a nice price in the Dirt Mile. He would be a great horse to use underneath.
Mythical Power is a horse whose star is on the rise. This Baffert trained son of Congaree is just figuring things out but he's already shown that he's pretty good. A mile is likely better for him distance wise than 10f and the class will likely be a better fit for him as well. Watch for him at Del Mar. They always have an 8f stakes race that serves as a nice stepping stone.
Wishful Tomcat is likely a far better horse in the east than he is in the west but he was good enough to run third in the San Fernando so if his form is good enough he might have a big race in him. Right now he's spending his time terrorizing state-bred stakes races. He's taken three in a row wire to wire while earning solid Beyer Speed Figures. He would probably need to have things his own way in order to win a race like this but were several months out so things can change. Either the speed could all pull out or he could start to show a new dimension.