Updated on 09/16/2011 9:29AM

BC Countdown - Mile: Green Fee on bubble for the big dance


In the 18-year history of the Breeders' Cup, the Mile has been perennially oversubscribed at pre-entry time. All indications early this week were that the Mile would attract nearly double the number of horses, 14, which ultimately will be allowed to run.

This reality is an unsettling one for a trainer such as Dan Peitz, who has seen Green Fee suddenly blossom into the kind of horse capable of winning at a high level. Green Fee may not be able to win a world-class event such as the BC Mile, admits Peitz, but the trainer nevertheless would relish the opportunity to see what would happen.

"We know we'd be taking a shot," Peitz said Wednesday from New York, where he was eagerly awaiting word about whether Green Fee would be one of the seven horses extended an invitation to the Mile (seven more gain automatic starting berths on BC points). "I actually kind of doubt we'll get to run, but it'd sure be nice to."

Green Fee defeated two-time Mile starter Forbidden Apple in the Oct. 5 Kelso Mile at Belmont, leading Peitz and his longtime clients Robert and Lawana Low to start dreaming about the Mile. But the Mile historically has been one of the most popular BC races with European horsemen, and when a typically disparate group of American horses are added into the mix, the inevitable result is a crowded starting gate. The Mile has had a 14-horse gate for 10 of the 18 previous runnings, equaling the Sprint for the most full fields.

Peitz said he compares his situation with that of a college basketball coach whose team suddenly gets hot at season's end.

"You don't have to be unbeaten to win the NCAA tournament," he said. "You've just got to be good for those three weeks, like this horse has gotten good. He had some physical problems that he's overcome, and he's never been this good. But first you've got to get to the big dance."

Meanwhile, easily the most pressing issue surrounding the Mile continues to be the status of Rock of Gibraltar, the European superstar who was expected to be cross-entered in the Mile and Classic. Rock of Gibraltar, trained by Aidan O'Brien, has won his last seven starts, all in Group 1 company. O'Brien, who also was expected to pre-enter major contenders Hawk Wing and Landseer in the Mile, continues to be coy regarding how he will proceed.

The Racing Post reported Wednesday that O'Brien has made the Mile the first preference for Rock of Gibraltar, but quoted the trainer saying: "Rock of Gibraltar's preferred entry is the Mile, while Hawk Wing's preferred entry is the Classic. But that doesn't mean that the situation cannot change."

Peitz had an interesting comment about Rock of Gibraltar.

"It might be good if he runs in the Mile, because then maybe some of the Europeans would come out, and that would let us in," he said.