10/09/2007 11:00PM

New Yorkers in a strong position

EmailWith virtually every major prep race for the Breeders' Cup out of the way, the concentration of power for the $1 million BC Dirt Mile clearly has settled in New York.

At least 12 horses remain prospects for the inaugural Dirt Mile, and at least half of those are based at Belmont Park or Aqueduct, including several who figure as logical favorites. Those horses are Corinthian, Daaher, Diamond Stripes, Discreet Cat, High Finance, and Magna Graduate. In addition, neither of the Nick Zito duo of Commentator and Wanderin Boy has been eliminated from consideration, although Zito said Wednesday that Commentator is more likely for the BC Sprint and he is undecided between the Dirt Mile and BC Classic for Wanderin Boy.

Several horses in the New York contingent stamped their tickets to the Dirt Mile over the weekend, including Daaher, an impressive winner of the Jerome on Sunday, and Diamond Stripes and Magna Graduate, the one-two finishers last Friday night in the Meadowlands Cup.

Meanwhile, several would-be prospects for the Dirt Mile have been eliminated from contention in recent days, most notably Lava Man, who finished last in the Oak Tree BC Mile last Saturday, as well as Most Distinguished, Minister's Bid, and Silent Name. Silent Name has been turned over by Stronach Stables to trainer Bobby Frankel after bleeding badly in his last race, in July, when he was still trained by Gary Mandella.

Surf Cat, fifth in the Oak Tree BC Mile, is still being pointed to the Dirt Mile, said trainer Bruce Headley.

Aside from the New York horses and Surf Cat, other Dirt Mile prospects include Gottcha Gold and Park Avenue Ball. Istan and Zanjero, both based in Kentucky, remain possible. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Tuesday that Zanjero, winner of the Indiana Derby on Saturday, was through for the year, but assistant Scott Blasi said Wednesday that no firm decision has been made.

"The colt came out of the race so good that Steve feels like we need to keep our options open," said Blasi.

Because of the Monmouth Park track configuration, the Dirt Mile actually will be run at a mile and 70 yards.