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Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: Craftsman must break well
by Handicappers ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2009-11-06 02:51:08 (First published: 2009-10-14 04:27:39 )

Santa Anita

Won by subsequent Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Albertus Maximus last year, the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) looks like getting an evenly matched and highly competitive field this time round. This is also the first edition of the race staged with Grade One status.

Mastercraftsman, one of the top milers in Europe, is the favorite, though he may be in a tricky starting position from the inside.


Santa Anita 7 November 2009 – 1 mile Turf

Purse: $1 million

Contenders presented with best
Globeform ratings, sires, trainers

124 – MASTERCRAFTSMAN (Danehill Dancer) / Aidan O’Brien / 123p – 120p – 118 - ?p / J Murtagh
116 – PYRO (Pulpit) / S bin Suroor / 111p – 116p / J Velazquez
116 – MIDSHIPMAN (Unbridled’s Song) / S bin Suroor / 116p in 2008 / GF ?p / G Gomez
116 – BULLSBAY (Tiznow) / Graham Motion / 112 – 101 – 115 – 116 / J Rose
115 – MR. SIDNEY (Storm Cat) / Bill Mott / 0 – 115 – 100 – 104 / K Desormeaux
114 – MAMBO MEISTER (King Cugat) / P Gleaves / 110 – 102 – 108 – 114 / M Cruz
114 – READY’S ECHO (More Than Ready) / T Pletcher / 105 – 112 – 114 – 111 / C Borel
112 – CHOCOLATE CANDY (Candy Ride) / J Hollendorfer / 0 – 112 – 110 / J Rosario
110 – FURTHEST LAND (Smart Stike) / C Wills / ?p - ?p – 110 / J Leparoux
110 – NEKO BAY (Giant’s Causeway) / J Shirreffs / 100 – 108 – 110 – 110 / M Smith

MASTERCRAFTSMAN is the obvious favorite in the Dirt Mile, as his form stands head and shoulders above the rest. Is he the “key” in the Pick 6 plan on Breeders’ Cup Saturday? Perhaps, but be careful here. He drew post one and that is hardly ideal for a European turf runner coming to a mile at this oval – especially one that is dropping back in distance, having raced over 9.5 and 10 furlongs in his last three starts. If he breaks slowly he could end up in all sorts of traffic problems on the turns. 6/5 really makes no appeal at all under these circumstances – even when we talk about a horse that, on ratings, has lengths in hand. He must be the selection of cours, but he will not be our key in any bets.

The Irish colt was Globeform’s Champion Juvenile last year, and he is not far behind BC Classic contender and barnmate Rip Van Winkle on this year’s ratings. Last term, Mastercraftsman was the better of the two, but he was also being used quite a bit more. He won the Phoenix Stakes (G1) and National Stakes (G1) at home in Ireland, before running below his best to be fourth to Naaqoos in the Grand Criterium (G1) at Longchamp in Paris. That may have been seen as a sign of a precocious juvenile already coming to the end of his career’s best spell – but Mastercraftsman was not done by. He has trained on well at three, and he has produced two of the best mile performances in Europe this season.

A fifth place finish behind Sea The Stars in the 2,000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket – where Mastercraftsman looked a bit dull in the preliminaries – set him up for a visually impressive run in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (G1) at The Curragh. Mastercraftsman won that classic by 4 ½ lengths from Rayeni, while Soul City finished third. These are smart colts though not really top class and one could question the value of the form. The Ballydoyle winner was much, much the best though, and he won with plenty in hand. The soft ground clearly suited him. The ground was totally different when he went to post for the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot just over three weeks later, and Mastercraftsman came out best once more. Only by a neck this time, but his battling win over BC Mile runner Delegator showed how tough he is. Delegator seemed to have his measure half a furlong out, but Mastercraftsman’s superior stamina and determination won the day. Sea The Stars proved a length too good when he had another crack at the champion in the International Stakes (G1) at York, and Mastercraftsman was beaten 5 lengths when third to “S.T.S.” in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown in September. This colt is very tough, no doubt about that, and he thrives on racing. He looked fresh and happy when cruising home in a minor event over the artificial surface at Dundalk in his most recent race, and Mastercraftsman is one of the best horses on the European team this year.

PYRO, impressive winning the Forego (G1) at Saratoga and probably improving still (though up to now been a typical dirt horse), Whitney Handicap (G1) winner BULLSBAY (proven over synthetics and consistent), and last year’s Breeders’ Juvenile Cup Juvenile (G1) winner MIDSHIPMAN are the obvious names to look at if betting against the favorite. Midshipman has come in for some criticism in the media following his somewhat workmanlike comeback win at Belmont Park in September, but don’t forget that it was a sprint, it was a run after along layoff, and he needed the race. Another thing worth remembering is how good he was over this track exactly a year ago, when he looked a natural miler with his win over previous Grade 1 winners Square Eddie and Street Hero.

Logic says go for Mastercraftsman, while the side of the betting brain that looks for value says Midshipman. 6-1 does look a tempting price for this horse.





A: 1 with 3, 4, 7
B: 3, 4, 7 with 1


1 – ALBERTUS MAXIMUS (Albert the Great) K McLaughlin / G Gomez - Globeform 118

2 – Rebellion - GF 115
3 – Two Step Salsa - GF 112p

Won by 1 ¼ lengths, ½ length

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