Mor Spirit will be tested off lay­off

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mary Ram­pellini Fol­low Mary Ram­pellini on Twit­ter @DRFRam­pellini

Mor Spirit ran one of the best races of the year in the Metropoli­tan Hand­i­cap on June 10 at Belmont. If he re­peats the per­for­mance next month in the Grade 1, $1 mil­lion Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, he will be tough to con­tain. The race is Nov. 3 at Del Mar.

Mor Spirit dogged Sharp Azteca in the Met Mile, put that ri­val away, and won by 6 1/4 lengths. He cov­ered the one­turn mile in 1:33.71

“It was just one of those races – no­body was go­ing to beat him that day,” trainer Bob Baf­fert said. “Just un­be­liev­able.”

Mor Spirit earned a Beyer Speed Fig­ure of 117, the year’s high­est among dirt races up to a mile. The Breeders’ Cup will be the horse’s first start since, and his re­cent drills in­clude a set of six-fur­long moves, with his lat­est in 1:12.40 from the gate Satur­day at Santa Anita.

Baf­fert said he backed off on Mor Spirit af­ter the Met Mile.

“He ran so fast that day,” said Baf­fert, who trains Mor Spirit for Michael Petersen. “It’s hard on them. He’s been do­ing well. He seems like he’s just com­ing back around right now.

“I was hop­ing to get a race in him. I couldn’t find the right kind of race for him. He’s run big off a lay­off.”

Baf­fert wins at a 29 per­cent rate with horses re­turn­ing of lay­offs of 61 to 180 days, ac­cord­ing to Daily Rac­ing Form statis­tics. Mor Spirit will be mak­ing his first start in 145 days.

The Dirt Mile will be a twoturn race, and Mor Spirit’s four other stakes wins have come at two turns, in­clud­ing the Grade 1 Los Alami­tos Fu­tu­rity at 2 and the Grade 3 Steve Sex­ton Mile in May. Mike Smith has the mount, said Baf­fert.

Mid­night Storm to cross-en­ter

Mid­night Storm, a graded stakes win­ner on both the dirt and turf tracks at Del Mar, is sched­uled to be cross-en­tered in the $2 mil­lion Mile and the Dirt Mile, ac­cord­ing to trainer Phil D’Amato. Mid­night Storm last raced Sept. 30, fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Awe­some Again at Santa Anita.

“As it stands now, we’re go­ing to cross-en­ter in both mile races and just kind of weigh our op­tions,” D’Amato said. “The horse came back in re­ally good shape and is go­ing to breeze this week­end.”

D’Amato said Tyler Baze would have the call in ei­ther race. The Mile, on turf, is Nov. 4.

Mid­night Storm won last year’s Grade 2 Ed­die Read and Grade 2 Del Mar Mile Hand­i­cap, both on the grass at Del Mar, and also cap­tured the Grade 3 Na­tive Diver over the Del Mar main track last Novem­ber.

Mid­night Storm leads all po­ten­tial Dirt Mile starters in earn­ings with $1.78 mil­lion.

“He’s just a to­tal war­rior to run on both sur­faces as good as he does for a cou­ple of years span now,” D’Amato said.

Mid­night Storm races for A Ven­neri Rac­ing and Lit­tle Red Feather Rac­ing.

◗ Gi­ant Ex­pec­ta­tions is sched­uled to have a cou­ple of works be­fore the Dirt Mile and will ship to Del Mar for the race Oct. 28, trainer Peter Eur­ton said Tues­day. The Pat O’Brien win­ner, he is based at Santa Anita. Gary Stevens has the mount in the Breeders’ Cup.

◗ Baf­fert said that Cupid, win­ner of the Harry F. Brubaker at a mile two back at Del Mar, is pos­si­ble for the Dirt Mile.

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