10/03/2012 1:51PM

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: Jersey Town among favorites after strong Kelso performance

Tom Keyser
The Kelso was Jersey Town's first win since the 2010 Cigar Mile.

Barclay Tagg said this week that the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is “all systems go” for his resurgent stable star, Jersey Town, whose surprisingly easy 3 1/2-length victory last weekend in the Grade 2 Kelso Mile at Belmont Park might well have earned the 6-year-old horse one of the favorite’s roles in the Nov. 3 race at Santa Anita.

“We pretty much have to go now, huh?” said Tagg. “The horse came out of it real well, and obviously we were thrilled with the way he ran. It was a Win and You’re In, too, so that makes your decision to go on easier. I imagine we’ll probably head out there on a plane when everybody else does, I guess a few days out.”

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

Jersey Town, a 6-year-old by Speightstown, was winning for the first time since he captured the 2010 Cigar Mile.

Meanwhile, as of this week, it’s looking like a medium-sized field at best for the Dirt Mile, with several would-be hopefuls already opting out for other races and several more possible to do so.

Those defections include To Honor and Serve, the beaten favorite in the Kelso. Trainer Bill Mott said the colt will run in the BC Classic. Also, Fort Larned will go in the Classic, said Ian Wilkes, while Willy Beamin, second as the favorite behind BC Dirt Mile hopeful Politicallycorrect in the Oklahoma Derby, will remain in New York to compete against state-breds, said trainer Rick Dutrow.

In addition, Dominus runs Saturday in the Shadwell Turf Mile and would seem more likely to stay on grass by advancing to the $2 million Mile, although trainer Todd Pletcher is keeping the Dirt Mile open as an alternate option.

Likewise, Coil makes his return to action this weekend in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship while trainer Bob Baffert mulls whether the Dirt Mile or BC Sprint would be next. Trainer Mike Hushion also is torn between the Dirt Mile and Sprint for his Vosburgh winner, The Lumber Guy.