10/27/2010 3:59PM

Crown of Thorns, Here Comes Ben prime contenders in BC Dirt Mile

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Here Comes Ben, winning the Kelly's Landing in June at Churchill, is one of the top threats for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.

Crown of Thorns, second in four straight Grade 1 races, including last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint, and Here Comes Ben, winner of four straight, including the Grade 1 Forego most recently, were the two top horses pre-entered for the $1 million Dirt Mile.

This Dirt Mile will be the first in the event’s brief history actually to be run at one mile on dirt. It will also be the first Dirt Mile run around one turn.

A total of 15 horses were pre-entered in the Dirt Mile. Aikenite, winner of two allowance races and twice graded-stakes placed this year, was not selected into the field by the Breeders’ Cup Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel and was placed on an also-eligible list.

Five Dirt Mile pre-entrants were cross-entered in other Breeders’ Cup races. They are Awesome Gem, winner of the Hollywood Gold Cup last July and whose second preference is the Marathon; Crown of Thorns, whose second preference is the Classic; Dakota Phone, winner of the San Diego Handicap last July and whose second preference is the Classic; Morning Line, winner of the Pennsylvania Derby most recently and whose first preference is the Classic; and Tropic Storm, winner of the Windy Sands Handicap in September and whose first preference is the Turf Sprint.

Godolphin Racing entered two horses in the Dirt Mile – Vineyard Haven and Gayego. Vineyard Haven, the lone supplemental entrant in the Dirt Mile at a cost of $90,000, has primarily been a top-notch sprinter. But he did win the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at a one-turn mile as a 2-year-old. Gayego snapped a five race losing streak with a win in the Presque Isle Downs Mile last time out.

The others pre-entered in the Dirt Mile are Tizway, dominant winner of the Kelso Handicap going a one-turn mile most recently; Cool Coal Man, runner-up in the Kelso; Mad Flatter, runaway winner of the Spend a Buck Handicap in his last start; Hurricane Ike, winner of the Derby Trial at the distance over the track last April; Thiskyhasnolimit, second to Classic contender Lookin At Lucky in the Indiana Derby most recently; and Mine That Bird, winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby, but winless since, and off the board in his last five starts.