10/03/2012 1:59PM

Breeders' Cup Classic: Dullahan among those with multiple options

Benoit & Associates
Dullahan battles with Game On Dude in the Pacific Classic.

The versatility of Dullahan has afforded his connections the opportunity to run him on dirt, turf, and Polytrack, yet, as far as the Breeders’ Cup goes, there is nothing that is truly perfect for him. The Mile on turf might be too short, the 1 1/2 miles of the Turf might be too far, and though 1 1/4 miles is certainly right up his alley, as proven by his victory in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, Dullahan never has rolled a strike on dirt.

Still, the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3, at 1 1/4 miles on dirt, remains the preference for Dullahan, according to his trainer, Dale Romans. But Dullahan will prep for the Breeders’ Cup this weekend in a 1 1/8-mile grass race, the Grade 1, $400,000 Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park, after which he will be sent to California, where his Breeders’ Cup status will be determined.

The Jamaica’s distance “gives us the opportunity to back up to a mile, we can still stretch him out to the mile and a half, or go back to the mile and a quarter on dirt,” Romans said.

That makes Dullahan one of several potential Classic runners still sitting astride the fence. Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up Stay Thirsty could run in the Classic or the Dirt Mile, or bypass both and await the Cigar Mile, trainer Todd Pletcher said. Nonios is under consideration for the Classic following his second-place finish to Game On Dude in the Awesome Again last Saturday, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said he is considering the Dirt Mile, too.

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To Honor and Serve is likely to run in the Classic, but the Dirt Mile is a back-up plan. And though Fed Biz is more likely for the Dirt Mile than the Classic – if he competes in a Breeders’ Cup race at all – more will be known after he runs in the Grade 2, $500,000 Indiana Derby on Saturday at Hoosier.

The other race with Classic implications on Saturday is the Grade 2, $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup, in which Alternation drew post 1 in a field of seven.

The Breeders’ Cup is now four weeks away, but Romans said he intends to send Dullahan out to California as soon as he can “to train over the racetrack a little bit.” He said he would rely heavily on his partner, exercise rider Tammy Fox, to determine how Dullahan is handling the Santa Anita dirt.

“If she tells me he just bounces over it like he does the synthetic, it’s a little tighter, a little firmer like he likes it, then we’d have to think very seriously about the Classic,” Romans said on a national teleconference.

Romans said there’s no telling if Dullahan has reached his peak.

If Dullahan goes to the Classic, that could present a tough call for jockey Joel Rosario, who has been riding Dullahan, and was aboard Flat Out for his Jockey Club Gold Cup victory. The possibility of having to make a rider switch for the Classic would not sway Romans to instead go in a grass race, he said.

“It’ll just be surface – if he goes out there and works like he belongs on that surface,” Romans said. That, more than anything, “will be the deciding factor.”