10/26/2012 12:58PM

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: Emcee stretching to a mile

Tom Keyser
Emcee works four furlongs in 47.40 seconds Friday over the synthetic surface at the Greentree training facility in Saratoga.

Though his connections tabbed the $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint as his first preference, Emcee will run in the $1 million Dirt Mile on Saturday, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Friday.

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After discussing the options with Simon Crisford, racing manager for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Racing, McLaughlin said there were several factors that played in the decision to choose the Dirt Mile.

“We were talking about it back and forth and we decided that the [Dirt] Mile looked like a shorter field, maybe an easier spot, less trouble, no bad post position; lot of plusses,” McLaughlin said. “We’re almost the favorite, I would think.”

Twelve horses were pre-entered for the Dirt Mile, but not all are expected to run. Handsome Mike is expected to run in the Classic. Jimmy Creed and Second City have first preference in the Sprint. Nonios has second preference in the Classic.

There were 16 horses pre-entered in the Sprint, which will be limited to a 14-horse field and the starting gate will likely be full.

“If we drew outside in the Sprint we would look really good and things might go very well, but they have to go perfect in the Sprint to win,” McLaughlin said.

Emcee, a son of Unbridled’s Song, won the Grade 1 Forego at seven furlongs by 4 1/2 lengths. He has never raced beyond seven furlongs nor has he raced around two turns. At Santa Anita, the Dirt Mile is conducted around two turns.

McLaughlin believes Emcee’s speed will enable him to get good position entering the first turn and he doesn’t view the distance as a problem.

“He gallops out in his works very, very well,” McLaughlin said. “We just never have tried him a mile. I don’t see that he won’t get it.”

On Friday, Emcee worked four furlongs in 47.40 seconds over the synthetic surface at the Greentree training facility in Saratoga. McLaughlin said he was looking for an easier move than last week, when Emcee worked five furlongs in 59.16 seconds.

“We were looking for not much as far as the stopwatch went,” he said. “We were trying to go easy but he’s tough to go easy with.”

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McLaughlin worked his three other Breeders’ Cup runners by themselves on Friday at Greentree as well.

Questing, the dual Grade 1-winning 3-year-old filly, went a half-mile in 49.80 seconds in preparation for the Ladies’ Classic. Alpha, the dead-heat winner of the Travers, went a half-mile in 49 seconds in preparation for the Classic. Fortify, third in the Champagne, went a half-mile in 48.60 seconds in preparation for the Juvenile.

Regarding Questing, who was outworked by Alpha when the two went in company last week, McLaughlin said: “I thought she went well; she was more on the bridle. She’s doing better. I think she’s ready to go. She’ll be happy out there.”

McLaughlin’s quartet of Breeders’ Cup horses were set to fly from Newburgh, N.Y., to Southern California on Saturday.