10/06/2010 4:47PM

Dirt Mile may suit Crown of Thorns, Dakota Phone


The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is a race that will often have some overlap with the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and this year is no different. Crown of Thorns and Dakota Phone, the two-three finishers in last Saturday’s Goodwood, have a license to eye either race. But while the Classic has a purse five times that of the $1 million Dirt Mile, the distance of the Dirt Mile makes the race a better spot for many horses. And at this point in time, at least, the distance of the Dirt Mile might make it a better fit for Crown of Thorns and Dakota Phone.

But this Dirt Mile – which is the first in the race’s brief history to actually be run at a mile on dirt – is also the first being run around one turn. As such, there is also more cross-pollination this year with the sprint division than we have seen before. For example, Here Comes Ben, who most recently made the Grade 1 Forego his fourth straight victory, all at seven furlongs, is intended for the Dirt Mile instead of the six-furlong Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Vineyard Haven, third in the Forego and the winner of two Grade 1 sprints last year, and who would be a 9-percent supplement to start in the Breeders’ Cup, is also more likely for the Dirt Mile than Sprint.

Last Sunday’s Kelso Handicap, the only one-turn mile stakes on dirt on this continent that was a direct prep for this year’s one-turn Dirt Mile, produced one interesting Breeders’ Cup candidate and ended the aspirations of another. In his first start back from an injury-related four-month absence, Tizway dominated the Kelso, winning by five lengths to earn a trip to Louisville. Regal Ransom, on the other hand, tired badly to finish a distant sixth in the Kelso as the even-money favorite and is now no longer being considered for the Breeders’ Cup.

Godolphin Racing, owner of Regal Ransom, is still loaded for the Dirt Mile, however. In addition to Vineyard Haven, Godolphin also has Gayego, winner of the Presque Isle Downs Mile in his last start.