08/27/2009 11:00PM

Monterey Jazz can cruise in Mile

Benoit & Associates
Monterey Jazz went wire to wire to win the American at Hollywood in July, and he figures to use the same tactics in the Del Mar Mile.

DEL MAR, Calif. - Trainer Craig Dollase has an ultimatum for the nine rivals who face Monterey Jazz in Saturday's $300,000 Del Mar Mile.

"I dare anyone to challenge us," he said.

It is doubtful anyone will accept that assignment. Monterey Jazz is a brave front-runner and will be favored in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile, which is run on turf. Earlier this summer, Monterey Jazz used front-running tactics to win the at Hollywood Park.

The difference for Saturday's Grade 2 Del Mar Mile is the race is shorter by a furlong than the American Handicap and David Flores replaces Tyler Baze, who injured a finger last weekend. Monterey Jazz and Flores have a history, and a good one. Flores rode Monterey Jazz to wins in the Sir Beaufort Stakes in 2007 and the Strub Stakes and Texas Mile in 2008.

The Del Mar Mile is a vital race for the autumn plans of Monterey Jazz and the other runners. The race is part of the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program, offering an automatic berth to the BC Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 to the winner, subject to the payment of entry fees.

The Del Mar Mile will be Monterey Jazz's first start since a fifth-place finish as the even-money favorite in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes over 1 1/8 miles on turf, a loss that can be forgiven. He was racing behind Thorn Song on the first turn when that rival bolted, leaving Monterey Jazz loose on the lead. Monterey Jazz ran off under Baze, yielded the lead in early stretch, and was beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Global Hunter.

An aggressive ride by Flores on Saturday will be fine with Dollase.

"In a mile race, I don't mind him running off," Dollase said. "I don't want him to. He can run off at a mile and still be strong at the end."

Monterey Jazz, the 120-pound topweight, will break from post 7.

"I like our post," Dollase said. "I like the way he's coming into it. He's ready to go. I put a sharp work into him the other day. He's on edge."

Owned by A&R and Class Racing Stables, Monterey Jazz breezed five furlongs in 58 seconds on the main track last Monday, the fastest of 38 works at the distance.

Monterey Jazz is one of five stakes winners in a field of 10 that includes two 4-year-old fillies - Allicansayis Wow and Lethal Heat. The field has one millionaire in the 7-year-old gelding Becrux, who has won 10 of 39 starts and was second in the Wickerr Stakes here on July 31.

The Del Mar Mile will be the first start in five months for Medici Code, who won the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby here in 2007. Trained by Darrell Vienna, Medici Code, 5, has lost his last 10 starts, but was beaten only a nose in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita in January. Medici Code was second in the Grade 2 San Luis Rey Handicap at Santa Anita on March 21.

Vienna fears the distance and race shape of the Del Mar Mile more than Medici Code's fitness.

"It won't be conditioning," he said. "It will be because it's too short or the race doesn't set up for him. We'll let him find a spot. It's a little shorter than I'd like."