10/24/2012 12:35PM

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile likely to draw a shorter field

Michael Burns
Delegation, winner of the Durham Cup, was a somewhat surprising entry in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

A few mild surprises were in store for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when pre-entries were revealed Wednesday, including a couple of unexpected absences and a few whose names had scarcely been mentioned.

Twelve horses are pre-entered, but the connections of four of them have listed other races as their first preference, meaning the Dirt Mile is likely to have a relatively short field. Shackleford and Jersey Town are the likely favorites, while Emcee also would fit that category in the unlikely event trainer Kiaran McLaughlin opts for the Dirt Mile instead of his first preference, the BC Sprint. Likely next on the odds line are a couple of 3-year-olds – Nonios, who has the BC Classic as a second alternate, and Fed Biz.

Besides Emcee, the others with the Dirt Mile as a second preference are Handsome Mike (Classic), Jimmy Creed (Sprint), and Second City (Sprint).

The notable absences from the Dirt Mile pre-entries are Bourbon Courage and Politicallycorrect, a pair of 3-year-olds whose connections had been pointing them to the Dirt Mile for weeks.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: Pre-entered fields with odds and comments]

Bourbon Courage, winner of the Super Derby and second in the Oct. 6 Indiana Derby in his last start, will stay at Churchill Downs and train toward the Nov. 23 Clark Handicap, trainer Kellyn Gorder said.

“We just didn’t want to ship out there to California,” Gorder said. “We didn’t think he was quite good enough yet. He is getting better, though, and I couldn’t be happier with him. We felt like this was the smarter move.”

Politicallycorrect, winner of the Oklahoma Derby in his last start for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, will run in the Damascus Stakes on the Nov. 3 Breeders’ Cup undercard, trainer Wesley Ward said.

“He was one of the few Kitten’s Joys that Mr. Ramsey didn’t nominate to the Breeders’ Cup, and he just thought it was going to cost too much to supplement,” Ward said.

Meanwhile, with Shackleford, Tapizar, and the locally based horses already on the grounds at Santa Anita or Hollywood, just a handful of Dirt Mile prospects were missing from the California scene this week, with Jersey Town and Emcee due in from New York and Delegation from Kentucky over the weekend.

Delegation, a 3-year-old Speightstown gelding, only became a Dirt Mile consideration by winning the Grade 3 Durham Cup on Oct. 14 over Polytrack at Woodbine, earning a career-high 104 Beyer Speed Figure. None of his six career races have come over dirt.

[BREEDERS' CUP PPs: Visit DRF's official BC Handicapping Center]

“I got to looking at what was going on in these races and I thought we’d take a shot,” trainer Mark Casse said. “I don’t know how he’ll transfer his form to the dirt, but he’s a real racehorse. He’ll probably breeze Saturday at Churchill before he leaves.”

Delegation is one of those whose names came as something of a surprise when pre-entries were released, along with John Scott, Jimmy Creed, and Second City.

This will be the sixth running of the Dirt Mile, which was first run in 2007 at Monmouth Park.