Updated on 10/28/2013 12:21AM

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: Graydar switches races, not quite ready for Classic

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Tom Keyser
Having had only one race following a long layoff, Kelso winner Graydar will run in the BC Dirt Mile rather than the Classic.

ELMONT, N.Y. – There has been a change of plans for Graydar, and there most likely will be a change in the way handicappers perceive his chances in the Breeders’ Cup. Graydar will run in the $1 million Dirt Mile on Friday at Santa Anita and not in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Saturday, as originally planned, trainer Todd Pletcher said Saturday.

Graydar, who has won 5 of 6 races, including the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in February, is 3 for 4 in races run at one mile. He has only had one race since winning the Fair Grounds Handicap on March 30. Graydar, who had surgery to remove an ankle chip shortly after that race, won the Grade 2 Kelso Invitational, a Win and You’re In race for the Dirt Mile, at Belmont on Sept. 28.

Though Pletcher and Randy Gullatt, the manager of Twin Creeks Racing Stables, had hoped to use that race as a springboard to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pletcher didn’t feel that the Kelso and Graydar’s subsequent workouts were enough to have him ready to run 1 1/4 miles in the Classic. Graydar has never raced beyond 1 1/8 miles.

“He’s a horse that doesn’t put a whole lot into his works,” Pletcher said. “We just felt like with one prep race since March, going a mile and a quarter wasn’t going to work out. We needed another race to get to where we wanted to be.”

Graydar worked Saturday over the Belmont training track, going four furlongs in 49.60 seconds in company with Vitoria Olimpica, who finished a neck in front of Graydar at the wire and galloped out better than Graydar.

Pletcher now has two major players in the Dirt Mile, as he already was planning to run the multiple Grade 1-winning 3-year-old Verrazano in the race.

“Either race that Graydar went in, we were going to have to run against a formidable stable companion,” said Pletcher, who has Palace Malice to run in the Classic. “I think the race already has a bit of pace to it. I think both horses are probably going to be looking for a similar trip. Neither are horses that have to have the lead; both are horses that have some natural speed and [will be] somewhat forwardly placed.”

On Saturday, Verrazano worked four furlongs in 49.70 seconds in company with All Tied Up over the Belmont training track.

The decision to run Graydar in the Dirt Mile is a blow to the connections of Holy Lute, Easter Gift, and Laugh Track, horses that remain on the preference list. The field is limited to 12 runners and two also-eligibles.

Easter Gift, second on the preference list, worked five furlongs in 1:01.00 in company with the Classic-bound Last Gunfighter. Though Easter Gift will be entered Monday, if it doesn’t look as though he’ll make the field, he will not be shipped Tuesday, as scheduled, his connections said. Alternative spots for Easter Gift would include the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct or the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, both in late November.