Dirt Mile could fa­vor closer

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE -

By Craig Milkowski

Time­for­mus Past Per­for­mances in­clude a Pace Pro­jec­tor for each race. This tool tries to pre­dict the po­si­tion of the field at the of­fi­cial first call of the race. The of­fi­cial first call is af­ter a quar­ter-mile for races at less than a mile and af­ter a half-mile for races at a mile or longer. The Pace Pro­jec­tor also at­tempts to pre­dict when the pace might be fast or slow, based on the com­po­si­tion of the field along with the dis­tance and sur­face of the race. With those things in mind, here is a race that ap­pears most likely to be hotly con­tested and fast early. Closers usu­ally take the worst of it in horse rac­ing, but this race could be an ex­cep­tion.

Dirt Mile

The Dirt Mile drew “only” a field of 10. The run-up for mile races on the dirt at Del Mar is quite long, but it still is a short run into the first turn com­pared to most races. Three horses are iden­ti­fied as “Leader” or “Speed” by Time­for­mus and fig­ure to make things lively up front. These in­clude Sharp Azteca, the most likely to lead ac­cord­ing to the Pace Pro­jec­tor, Mor Spirit, and Gato Del Oro.

Mor Spirit beat Sharp Azteca hand­ily on Bel­mont Stakes Day af­ter track­ing him early on, but that race was nearly five months ago and was the last time Mor Spirit has been seen in a race. Gato Del Oro led the Ok­la­homa Derby early in his last start and has never been far­ther back than one length af­ter the open­ing quar­ter-mile.

There is plenty of other sec­ond-wave speed. Iron Fist, Gi­ant Ex­pec­ta­tions, Cupid, and Bat­tle of Mid­way are all listed as “Track­ers” by Time­for­mus and have won graded stakes this year.

Ac­cel­er­ate is shown fifth in the Pace Pro­jec­tor, but it wouldn’t be sur­pris­ing if he is closer, based on his last two starts since adding blink­ers.

Whichever horse or horses sur­vive the early bat­tles will have to deal with some very tal­ented closers, led by Prac­ti­cal Joke. The tal­ented 3-year-old has won all five starts at one mile or less, though none of those have been around two turns.

: Prac­ti­cal Joke, Awe­some Slew

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