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Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile Picks 2017
Dirt Mile Entries and Odds
Whereas most one mile dirt races at major tracks in the US are run around only one turn, the configuration of the Del Mar track will make the BC Dirt Mile a two-turn affair, a set up that generally favors front-running horses.
Expected to be part of the early mix, Sharp Azteca is a four-year-old Kentucky bred who has won half of his 14 lifetime starts, and three of five races in 2017, including his last two. In the first of those, the (G3) Monmouth Cup Stakes he set the track record for 1 1/16 miles in winning over a small field by more than seven lengths, and in his last he took the (G2) Kelso Handicap by four lengths despite carrying high weight and giving away between 4-6 pounds to the rest of the field. He appears to be in top form, and could take them gate-to-wire.
Top Contender Has Had a Long Layoff
One of Sharp Azteca's defeats earlier this year came at the hands of Mor Spirit, who comes in as one of two in the race for trainer Bob Baffert. A 2016 Kentucky Derby participant, he was on fire early in the year, reeling off three straight wins, with the last of those the (G1) Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont.
In that one he duelled with Sharp Azteca stride-for-stride in the first half of the race before pulling away to go on to win by more than six lengths. He's likely the fastest horse in the field, but the problem is that he hasn't raced since that win, nearly five months ago, and may not be in top form.
Considered by many to be the top choice in the race, Accelerate will be taking a cut back in distance here, as he last ran in in the (G1) Pacific Classic at 1 1/4 miles, where he finsihed third behind Breeders' Cup Classic contenders Collected and Arrogate. Prior to that he won the 1 1/16 miles (G2) San Diego Handicap over the Del Mar dirt course, in a race that also featured Arrogate who ran prehaps the worst race of his life. While the distance and track suits him very well here, there's some question as to whether he has the overall speed to match the top two.
Looking deeper into the field at a few longshot hopefuls, the late-running Awesome Slew could get the perfect set-up, with lots of early speed expected in the race. A Florida-bred for trainer Mark Casse, he's been first or second in six of his past seven races, and won last out in the (G3) Ack Ack Stakes at Churchill Downs, where he raced near the back of the pack early before coming five-wide off the turn to grab the lead in deep stretch.
Also in the field and a solid choice to at least hit the bottom of the exotics is Practical Joke, a talented three-year-old who took a shot at the 2017 Kentucky Derby, running fifth, but is best suited to races of a mile or less, where he has won five times. He has enough tactical speed to be sitting off the front runners and hope to pick up the pieces if any of them tire late. What hangs over his head is a 0-for-5 record in races around two turns.
The Dirt Mile goes Friday, November 3 from Del Mar race track in Del Mar, California. It's the second Breeders' Cup race of the day, with an expected post time of 6:05 PM Eastern.
- Iron Fist (25-1)
- Giant Expectations (16-1)
- Sharp Azteca (5-1)
- Gato Del Oro (50-1)
- Awesome Slew (16-1)
- Mor Spirit (2-1)
- Cupid (11-1)
- Accelerate (4-1)
- Battle Of Midway (12-1)
- Practical Joke (11-2)
Dirt Mile Picks
- #3 - Sharp Azteca
- #6 - Mor Spirit
- #5 - Awesome Slew
- #8 - Accelerate
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