The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile has grown in stature in recent years and we are in for a cracking renewal in 2016. The deserved favourite is Dortmund who, although is yet to win a race from three starts in 2016, chased home the mighty California Chrome on all of those occasions. Although the feeling is that Dortmund certainly has the best chance in the race, the price is pretty poor considering he hasn’t won a race this year so RUNHAPPY looks to be better value. The Laura Wohlers trained four-year-old was America’s best sprinter in 2015. Foot bruising kept him out of action for a large part of this season and on his return at Churchill Downs he was sent off the 3/10 favourite.
He was very worked up in the preliminaries and never settled in his race, finishing a fading fourth which was very disappointing. The question must be asked; why are they running America’s best sprinter over a mile? Connections are adamant that this son of Super Saver will stay the trip and they are lining up an attempt at the $12,000,000 Pegasus Cup. There is no doubt that he will improve from his reappearance run. Santa Anita is a speed track so a mile here isn’t as tough as a mile at some of the other tracks in America and he hacked up on his only start here over seven furlongs. If he is within touching distance turning for home, he will give Dortmund one hell of a race and might just have enough speed to beat him too.
1 VYJACK – Won here at Santa Anita on turf and more often than not he has run poorly recently when sent on the Dirt, so the feeling is conditions won’t suit this Tepin’s older half brother. Most of his career wins have come on Dirt but that was at the start of his career. He’ll appreciate a good clip up front and will be trying to stay on late.
2 TOM’S READY – Hold up merchant who likes to come home fast and late so he is another that will really appreciate a fast pace up front. This is a pretty big step up in class from what he is used to racing against, but nothing will finish faster if they set a blazing pace early. Each way contender.
3 DORTMUND – No win from all of his three starts this season, but there is no disgrace in being beaten by California Chrome. The two turn mile at Santa Anita is perfect for this Bob Baffert trained four-year-old who has four wins from five starts at Santa Anita. He stays further than this and is the one to beat.
4 POINT PIPER – Ex Aidan O’Brien trained six-year-old now in the hands of Jerry Hollendorfer. Bolted up in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile Handicap in August and conditions will suit, but he only has three victories to his name from 18 starts so looks difficult to fancy for win purposes.
5 ACCELERATE – John Sadler trained lightly raced three-year-old colt who has been improving from start to start, but the feeling is that he will be way out of his depth in this class of race. He has won his last three races on the trot in moderate affairs and will need to show a lot more to get involved here.
6 TEXAS CHROME – Another horse that is testing himself against some of the best milers around. He won the Super and Oklahoma Derbies so clearly has plenty of ability and he can be difficult to pass when he has his head in front. Has work to do to reverse the form with Gun Runner.
7 RUNHAPPY – Notched up six straight wins in 2015 over distances between 6 furlongs and 7 furlongs. Well beaten on both starts over 1 mile or further to date, but connections are 100% certain that he is a miler and he needed the run after a long lay off last time out. Massive player if he bounces back to his best.
8 TAMARKUZ – Former winner of the Group 2 Godolphin Mile in Meydan, so conditions and trip will certainly suit this exposed six-year-old. He has very mixed results in America and so looks an inconsistent sort. Comes here off the back of two decent runs in second, but he is likely to come up short once more.
9 GUN RUNNER – Three-year-old son of Candy Ride who has faced stern opposition this year, third to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, fifth to Exaggerator in the Haskell Invitational Stakes and second in the Pennsylvania Derby when last seen. Still has time on his side and looks sure to give it a good go.