US Racing Staff
The $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), which will be contested for the 13th time on Saturday, was created to fill a void for the horses who weren’t classic distance types or speedy sprinters, and in the years since its inception it’s proven to be a good draw for some really good horses.
Some of the more recognizable names to have won in previous years include City of Light, Battle of Midway, Goldencents and Corinthian.
This year, the race got some last-minute star power in Fox Hill Farm’s come-backing Omaha Beach, who was installed as the 8-5 favorite after his connections chose the mile distance over the six-furlong Sprint and 10-furlong Classic.
The son of War Front is trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella and will be ridden by Mike Smith from post position 5.
“I couldn’t have picked a better one,” Mandella said of the post. “He’s right in the middle there. Everything should go well, but we know we have to have a little bit of luck to go along with that post position.”
On Tuesday, Omaha Beach blew out three furlongs in 36 1/5 seconds under retired jockey Nestor Capitaine.
“We had set it up to work three-eighths tomorrow three days out,’’ Mandella said. “Just something easy in 37 and change. Then I got to thinking about the works I gave him before the Santa Anita Sprint and thought that if he remembered those works, he wasn’t going to go in 37. I thought it might be better to be four days out if he did take the bit and go faster. He was perfect this morning. He went 36 1/5 like a baby. He continues to prove what a class act he is.”
Fellow Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who hasn’t won a Dirt Mile yet, sends out beaten Kentucky Derby (G1), Preakness (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) favorite Improbable. The son of City Zip will be ridden for the first time by Rafael Bejarano. Improbable is the second choice at 3-1 in the field of 10.
Also on the work tab Tuesday for the Dirt Mile was Korean import Blue Chipper, who breezed three furlongs in 34 4/5 under Flavien Prat.
“We are very happy with the way he worked and handled the track this morning,” Ryu Seungho Ho, who represents trainer Kim Young-Kwan, said. “The plan is to go out on the main track tomorrow but just for a canter.”