10/30/2017 3:16PM

Ballagh Rocks stands to move up in BC Mile

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Barbara D. Livingston
Ballagh Rocks works a half-mile in 49.60 seconds at Del Mar on Monday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – It took trainer Bill Mott 13 tries to win a Breeders’ Cup Mile. Saturday, he has a chance for two in a row.

A year after Tourist upset the BC Mile at Santa Anita, Ballagh Rocks will try to do the same thing at Del Mar. He won’t be one of the favorites, but then neither was Tourist, who got home at 12-1. Ballagh Rocks will probably be longer than that, but he’s run competitive races when stepped up to Grade 1 grass competition, and as a 4-year-old should still have a bit of upside to him.

“He’s run good every time,” Mott said. “He just shows up.”

Ballagh Rocks worked a comfortable half-mile by himself Monday, going around the dogs in 49.60 with a fairly energetic gallop-out.

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“He looked fine. He doesn’t do much without company. We even put the blinkers on him this morning to try and keep him focused,” Mott said. “The rider said he liked this course. It might be a good turf course for him.”

Firm going, which Mott thinks his horse prefers, is one reason to consider the possibility of Ballagh Rocks improving. Three of his last four starts, including a good third in World Approval’s Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga, came on courses labeled good or yielding. His third last out in the Shadwell Turf Mile came on ground designated as firm, but the Keeneland course clearly had gone into full autumnal mode by October, and was loose and breaking away from horses.

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Another thing that could help Ballagh Rocks, a Stormy Atlantic colt owned by Donegal Racing, would be the presence of the speedy Midnight Storm in the Mile. Between Midnight Storm and Heart to Heart, the Mile pace figures to be strong, which is exactly what Ballagh Rocks needs. That, and good fortune.

The whole thing in this race is the trip, anyway,” said Mott, who would know by now. “If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ve got some kind of chance.”