10/26/2007 12:00AM

Corinthian draws off in Dirt Mile

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - Corinthian perfectly filled the niche for which the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile was intended when he crushed seven other rivals Friday at Monmouth Park, capping a year during which he also won a definitive miler race, the Metropolitan Mile.

With Kent Desormeaux giving him a textbook ride, Corinthian took command from pace-setting Gottcha Gold after turning for home, then pulled away to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Gottcha Gold, the local hero who won the Salvator Mile and Iselin Handicap over the summer, held second, another 8 1/4 lengths before Discreet Cat, the 3-2 favorite in a field of eight.

Corinthian, owned by the Centennial Farms syndicate and based in New York with trainer Jimmy Jerkens, returned $9.40 as the second choice after finishing the mile and 70-yard distance in 1:39.06.

"This colt is a fireball," Desormeaux said. "He just dragged me down the stretch."

The BC Dirt Mile was run amid trying conditions, with steady rain leaving the track a sea of mud. Nonetheless, a crowd of 27,803 turned out on the first Friday in Breeders' Cup history, helping with an all-sources handle of $30,796,414, more than double the previous Monmouth record of $14.1 million, set in August on Haskell Day.

Wanderin Boy took a brief early lead in the inaugural BC Dirt Mile but was quickly overhauled by Gottcha Gold as the field sped into the first turn. After alternating in third and fourth with Discreet Cat along the inside down the backstretch, Corinthian angled out at the quarter pole and swept past Gottcha Gold.

Desormeaux, who posted the third BC victory of his career but his first in 12 years, said he could have been caught wide early but elected to ease his mount back and get to the rail.

"It turned out to be the perfect position to keep his face clean," he said.

Discreet Cat was up in the final strides to get third from Wanderin Boy. Then came Lewis Michael, Xchanger, Park Avenue Ball, and High Finance. Forefathers was an early scratch from an original field of nine and was scheduled to run Saturday in the BC Sprint.

Corinthian, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Pulpit, has won 6 of 12 career starts. After winning the Grade 1 Met Mile in May, the colt finished sixth in the Suburban, then fourth in the Woodward. Corinthian subsequently recorded a series of strong works at his Belmont Park home base.

"He's been training great, but his last two races were subpar, so it was hard to get overly confident," said Jerkens, who also won the 2005 BC Mile with Artie Schiller.

Gottcha Gold, ridden by Chuck Lopez, made no mistakes in controlling the pace but his mount was no match for the winner.

"I couldn't be more proud of him," Lopez said.