The two main players in this race both exit the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, which was run around two turns at Del Mar. Even though there appeared to be plenty of speed signed on for that race, the expected fast pace never materialized, and eventual runner-up Sharp Azteca (#6) was able to set fairly moderate fractions on the front end. While he did have that part of the race go his way, he was racing down inside for much of his trip, which was not the place to be on Breeders’ Cup Friday or Saturday.
Practical Joke (#8) was also racing down inside after crossing over from his outside post position, though he did swing outside for the stretch drive. What hindered him was the relatively moderate pace, and that the Dirt Mile was run around two turns. Practical Joke has never won a race in that situation but is undefeated in five starts around one turn. The Pace Projector is predicting a fast pace here, as Americanize could prove to be a thorn in the side of Sharp Azteca in the early going, and that may set the table for Practical Joke’s late run.
I think Sharp Azteca and Practical Joke are the horses to beat, but the one that I want to bet is SEYMOURDINI (#2).
This colt had ascended to a new level earlier this year, winning three straight races by 10 lengths or more, and topped it off with a massive 135 TimeformUS Speed Figure in the State Dinner at Belmont. He went to the sidelines after that and returned in the Bold Ruler at Belmont. He finished fourth but ran much better than the running line suggests, as he lost focus on the turn but then rallied strongly through the lane. The one-mile distance of this race should be much more to his liking and should allow him to get a more comfortable stalking trip. If the real Seymourdini shows up here, even horses as good as Sharp Azteca and Practical Joke could be in for a scare.
Exacta Key Box: 2 with 1,4,6,8,10
Trifecta: 2 with 4,6,8 with 1,4,6,8,10