This looks to be the most competitive race over the weekend. Each horse in the field has won a Grade 1 stakes race in their career and many with at least one in 2011.
Churchill Downs – Breeders Cup Dirt Mile (G1) – 1 mile – Dirt – $1,000,000
Date: November 5, 2011
Estimated Post Time: 4:01pm EST
1. The Factor – Martin Garcia – 7/2
2. Shackleford – Jesus Castenon – 7/2
3. Tapizar – Garrett Gomez – 20/1
4. Tres Borrachos – Joel Rosario – 30/1
5. Wilburn – Julien Leparoux – 4/1
6. Irrefutable – Rafael Bejarano – 12/1
7. Jersey Town – Cornelio Velasquez – 15/1
8. Caleb’s Posse – Rajiv Maragh – 5/1
9. Trappe Shot – John Velazquez – 3/1
The Factor (KY) – Trainer Bob Baffert
This is a FAST horse. In breaking his maiden earlier this year, he set a six furlongs track record of 1:06.98 at Santa Anita. Next time out, he was just 3/5 of a second off the seven furlongs track record when winning the seven furlongs Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes. Baffert sent his horse to Oaklawn Park next to see how he would do in a longer race. He won the 1 1/16 miles Rebel Stakes by 6 1/4 lengths in a time of 1:42.19. He injured himself in the 1 1/8 miles Arkansas Derby on route to a 7th place finish. That would end any hope of running in the Kentucky Derby. It would be 4 1/2 months between races before he popped up again in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar. He took out reigning champion Smiling Tiger and won by 1 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:21.56. Just 2/5 off the track record. Are you getting the point? He is FAST. His last race was a serious speed duel with 45-1 Sirocco Strike in the Grade 1 Ancient Title where the fractions were 21.27, 43.80 and 55.95. That ultimately did in both these horses and opened the door for Amazombie to come from behind and take the win. Uncle Mo has been pre-entered into the Classic, so that opens the door for The Factor to be the favorite come post time.
Trappe Shot (FL) – Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin
This Florida bred Tapit colt raced only once as a two year old. He started his three year old campaign by breaking his maiden, winning back to back Allowance races then took the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park. McLaughlin then took the big step with him and ran in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational Stakes. He finished a distant 2nd to Lookin at Lucky, but was ahead of graded stakes winners Super Saver, First Dude and Ice Box. He was ready for prime time. Next up was the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 28. Many of the same horses as well as a few others. He would get bumped hard out of the gate and never was a part of the race. He ended up 9th and injured. He would miss significant time. 8 1/2 months to be exact. His next race was the Waldoboro Stakes at Belmont Park on May 11. He won the 6 furlongs sprint by 1/2 length. A month later, he would take the Grade 2 True North Handicap also going 6 furlongs. They found a new hot spot for their colt. IN August, he ran into a very stubborn long shot in Sean Avery, who was given the lead with no pressure and hung on to beat Trappe Shot by a nose. His most recent race was the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational Stakes on October 1 at Belmont Park. It was almost Travers deja vu as their were 5 horses bumping immediately after the gate opened. Despite the horrible gate he still finished 4th losing just 2 lengths. The only surprise is that he is being mentioned for the Dirt Mile and not the BC Sprint. He’s never been tested at a mile against this caliber of horses. It will be interesting to see how he adapts to the extra 2 furlongs.
2011 Record: 4 Starts 2-1-0 (He won the Grade 1 True North Handicap at Belmont Park on June 11).
Shackleford (KY) – Trainer Dale Romans
When you mention the word competitor, this colt has to be part of the conversation. He jumped onto the scene with a 2nd place 68-1 longshot performance in the Florida Derby G1. Only lost a head to Dialed In. He lead the entire way in the Kentucky Derby on decent fractions only to fade back to 4th. Only losing by 3 1/2 lengths. He had a brilliant performance in the Preakness Stakes, winning by 1/2 length over Derby winner Animal Kingdom. He once again led the entire race in the Belmont Stakes but this time he faded badly to 5th losing almost 8 lengths. You would think the rigorous triple crown races over the narrow window of 5 weeks would have taken its toll on Shackleford, but they didn’t. He put forth a gut wrenching performance in the Haskell. He held the lead half way down the stretch only to lose to Coil by a 1/2 length in the final strides. Next up, was the 1 1/4 miles Travers. I didn’t like this decision by Romans. In my opinion, I feel this horse would be best suited for a mile and nothing further than 1 1/8 miles. He truly over-achieved during the triple crown and Haskell Invitational. He led the Travers on quick fractions only to fall back to 8th, 23 lengths behind the winner Stay Thirsty. It would have been nice for this colt to get some much needed rest and head into the Breeders Cup fresh and ready to go, but he ran again on October 1 at Hoosier Park in the Indiana Derby. He was of course the favorite, but finished a distant second to Wilburn. I would absolutely love this horse in the Dirt Mile. I just don’t know what he has left in the tank. He has run in heart out since April with very little rest.
2011 Record: 9 Starts 2-3-0 (He won the G1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 21).
Caleb’s Posse (KY) – Trainer Donnie Von Hemel
After a disappointing 12th place finish in Arkansas Derby, Don Von Hemel took a different path than other trainers. He entered his colt in the less glamorous stakes and found some success. He won the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and 4th in the G3 Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows. At that point, he took another approach. He decided to cut back on distance with this colt and it paid immediate dividends. He would win back to back racing including the Grade 2 Amsterdam Stakes going 6 1/2 furlongs and Grade 1 Foxwood King’s Bishop going 7 furlongs. He got up to beat Uncle Mo by a nose. Instead of continuing along the path of sprints or middle distance, he went back to 1 1/16 miles. I didn’t like the decision to run in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby. He finished 3rd losing to Wilburn and Shackleford. He should have stuck to what has worked best. Either that or give him a couple of more weeks and really get him ready for the Breeders Cup. The Sprint might be a better fit for this colt, but a mile isn’t out of the question.
2011 Record: 9 Starts 4-1-1 (He won the Grade 1 Foxwood King’s Bishop at Saratoga, G2 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga and Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown).
Jersey Town (KY) – Trainer Barclay Tagg
Give Barclay Tagg credit. He knows exactly when and where to run his horse. In 15 career starts, Jersey Town has only finished out of the top three once. That was an Allowance race back in June of 2009. Since then he has won the Grade 1 Hill ‘N’ Dale Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct, been 3rd twice in Grade 2 races and 2nd in three Grade 3 stakes races. He hasn’t raced much in his career and that might be why he is so efficient at at the age of 5. In 2011, he has yet to win a race, but for no lack of trying. He missed 8 months since winning the Cigar Mile last November. His first race was a win in the Teddy Drone Stakes at Monmouth Park on July 31. He then finished to Jackson Bend in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes and most recently 3rd in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park. This doesn’t look to be the strongest Mile field we have seen, but still has to find a way to get passed Uncle Mo and Jackson Bend.
2011 Record: 3 Starts 0-2-1
Tapizar (KY) – Steven Asmussen
This colt was ready to make his mark on the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown trail until he injured himself during the running of the Robert L. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. He already won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes in January. He was out almost 8 months, when he came back and won an Allowance Optional Claiming race on October 8 at Belmont Park.
2011 Record: 3 Starts 2-0-0 (He won the Grade 3 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on January 15).
Irrefutable (KY) – Trainer Bob Baffert
This 5 year old gray is more known for being a sprinter at the Allowance level and non-graded stakes races. He did however, come 2nd in his two races at the graded level. First, he lost just a head to Giant Ryann in the Grade 2 Sprint Smile Handicap at Calder Race Course. Giant Ryan, is currently riding a six race winning streak including the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational. Irrefutable’s last effort was a 2nd to surprising 2nd to Amazombie in the Grade 1 Ancient Title at Santa Anita. We know this horse can sprint, the question is can he duplicate these efforts going an extra 2 furlongs.
2011 Record: 8 Starts 3-2-0 (Has won two Allowance races in 2011 at Santa Anita and Churchill Downs).
Wilburn (KY) – Trainer Steven Asmussen
This Bernardini colt did not run as a two year old. All 8 starts have come this year at the age of three. He is currently riding a three race winning streak that includes his last, the Grade 2 Indiana Derby. That was going 1 1/16 miles. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes at Monmouth Park just prior to that going a mile and 70 yards, so we know the distance won’t be a factor. He seems to be getting better with each race. Wild card.
2011 Record: 8 Starts 5-0-0 (He won the Grade 2 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park on October 1).
Tres Borrachos (KY) – Trainer Martin Jones
This 6 year old gelding hasn’t raced much in 2011. He missed nearly 9 months due to injury. He qualifies for the Dirt Mile after his upset win in the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap. Since then he has finished 6th in the Grade 1 TVG Pacific Classic Stakes and 5th in the Grade 1 Goodward Stakes.
2011 Record: 2 Starts 0-1-0 (He won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 30).