10/08/2008 12:00AM

Well Armed leaning toward Dirt Mile


Talk about a nice problem to have: Well Armed earned his way into the Dirt Mile with a track-record score in the Win and You're In San Diego Handicap; 10 weeks later, his victory in the Goodwood also gave him an automatic berth in the Classic, where he would constitute a formidable WinStar Farm entry along with Travers winner Colonel John.

Well Armed had his first workout since the Goodwood on Wednesday and impressed trainer Eoin Harty with a three-furlong move in 35.20 seconds that was fourth fastest of 19 at the distance over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface and termed "breezing."

"He's looking pretty good; he worked well," Harty said. "He's right on course, and 50-50 for the Dirt Mile - maybe a little more. We'll make a decision after he works next week."

Harty added that Past the Point, who was cooked in a pace duel and faded to fifth as the 8-5 choice in last Friday's Meadowlands Cup, was flown to California afterward but probably will not run on Breeders' Cup Day.

The Goodwood's third and fourth finishers, Albertus Maximus and Surf Cat, add depth to a competitive second running of the Dirt Mile, and they also had their first works since that race.

Albertus Maximus, who prior to the Goodwood set Del Mar's track record for a mile in his first start for trainer Vladimir Cerin, went a half-mile in 48.80, handily, on Monday.

Surf Cat, who won the seven-furlong San Carlos and 1 1/16-mile Mervyn LeRoy Handicaps on dirt in 2006 and won them again on synthetic tracks earlier this year for Bruce Headley, worked a handy five furlongs Tuesday.

Tale of Ekati, fourth in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile in a sea of slop at Monmouth, handled off-going nicely to win last Sunday's one-mile Jerome Handicap for 3-year-olds at Belmont, earning a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure in the one-turn Grade 2 stakes and raising the possibility of a start against older rivals in the Dirt Mile.

"I was pleased he handled the mud so well," trainer Barclay Tagg said afterward. "I knew he was dead-on for the race."

Defections from the Dirt Mile last week included Kentucky Cup Classic winner Zanjero, sidelined by a leg injury, and Smooth Air, who is aiming for the Classic.