Updated on 09/15/2011 1:15PM

Countdown to the Cup: The Mile (10/18)


ELMONT, N.Y. - The presence of top milers from Europe, California, and New York did little to scare away the competition for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Mile at Belmont Park on Oct. 27.

At Wednesday's pre-entry stage, 14 horses were named to the field and five were placed on a secondary list and would become eligible if defections occurs. The leading contenders are Noverre from Europe, Val Royal from California, and Affirmed Success from New York.

The presence of several horses entered in other Breeders' Cup Day races may help the horses on the secondary list gain a berth.

Two horses named to the field have first preference in other Breeders' Cup races - Banks Hill in the Filly and Mare Turf and Hap in the Turf. In addition, two from the secondary list have other options. Crystal Music has a first preference in the Filly and Mare Turf. Slew Valley holds a berth in the Turf.

Consequently, Express Tour, who has never run on turf, will gain a berth if a defection occurs, while Crystal Music, Bach, Sarafan, and Slew Valley are next in, in order, if others defect.

The weather will play a role in the participation of City Zip, according to his trainer, Linda Rice.

Already named to the field, City Zip may start in the Sprint if wet weather develops. The 3-year-old City Zip was third in the Kelso Handicap on Oct. 6, his turf debut. He has won eight sprint stakes.

"I'd like to watch the weather," Rice said. "I think he'd be better on a firm course. I'd probably go on the turf because the Sprint is a tough race."

The Kelso was City Zip's first start against older horses. Close to the pace, he was passed in early stretch, but lost by only a length to Forbidden Apple, another top contender to the Mile.

"I think the turf itself is no problem," Rice said. "He put in a good showing. He got beat a length, and Forbidden Apple will be one of the favorites. He doesn't need the lead. I think that's an advantage."

This year's Mile will be the fourth Breeders' Cup start for Affirmed Success. Previously, he was sixth in the 1998 Sprint, 12th in the 1999 Sprint, and fourth in the 2000 Mile.

"As he crossed the line in 1999, I was working out a plan to get him in the Breeders' Cup winner's circle and the only other option was the mile on turf," Affirmed Success's trainer, Richard Schosberg, said. "For the last two years, we started back from the Breeders' Cup and made our plan of attack."

Affirmed Success has won 2 of 3 starts this year, winning the Jaipur Handicap in the mud on May 27 and the Poker Handicap over a mile on turf on July 4. In the Atto Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 9, he was beaten a nose by Numerous Times after leading for much of that track's long three-furlong stretch.

"That's not where you want to be," Schosberg said. "He ran a huge race that day after nine weeks [away], and he'll run well off this layoff. He's not the sort you over-race at all."

On Wednesday, Affirmed Success breezed five furlongs in 1:00.45. Schosberg said he will have one more workout before the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Like Express Tour, I Love Silver will be making his turf debut in the Mile.

Certain to be a longshot, I Love Silver was pre-entered for the Mile and Sprint. He was among the eight horses that qualified for the Mile from points earned via finishes in graded stakes in 2001

Conversely, I Love Silver did not have enough graded stakes points to earn one of the eight automatic berths into the Sprint field, and was placed on the secondary list for the Sprint by a committee of racing officials.

Trainer Dean Greenman said I Love Silver will go in the Mile.

"He worked well on the grass at Del Mar," Greenman said.

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