Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Future Book

Horse racing is all about hopes and dreams and that is what the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile represents on Saturday. The huge fan favorite Cody’s Wish makes his final start before retiring to stud and is a heavy, heavy chalk to see off the likes of Zozos, Charge It, and National Treasure and repeat last year’s victory in this race, the outcome that a nation’s – no, the world’s – racing fans are hoping for. Here’s our 2023 Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Future Book courtesy of Jazzsports!

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Breeders Cup Dirt Mile Future Book

G1, $1m, 1m dirt, 3yo+, Santa Anita, Saturday 11.30am PT

Two scratches – the tragedy of Practical Move, and the injury of Algiers – have diminished the quality of the Dirt Mile, but on the upside, they have increased the chance that ‘America’s Horse’ will pull off the most popular result of the whole Breeders’ Cup weekend for the second year running.

Even people who do not really consider themselves racefans know the story of Cody’s Wish (-150) and the eerie, Twilight Zone bond he has made with disabled teenager Cody Dorman, after whom he was named. The fairytale narrative has made Cody’s Wish the most popular horse in the US and he is also one of the best, having won ten of his last 12 starts including four G1s.

Twelve months ago he came with his usual late rally to win this race by a head, beating a better field than he meets today, and he started off 2023 in pretty much the same vein. He was very impressive in the 2023 G1 Metropolitan (Met Mile) at Belmont Park, romping by three and a quarter lengths with Charge It (+400) fourth, two and a half lengths behind.

Cody’s Wish blew his winning streak when only third in the 2023 G1 Whitney at Saratoga, but the mile-eighth was not ideal and all horses get a pass for one off-day. Last time out he was back on song, beating up on inferior rivals in the seven-furlong G2 Vosburgh at Aqueduct, although not as dominantly as before.

There is, however, a possibility that Cody’s Wish is not quite the force of old, as his last two runs have been his least impressive for 18 months. He does still have a clear class edge over this opposition, and if he can regain his peak he is a mortal lock. If he is slightly off his game-day brilliance, he will be vulnerable to an in-form, albeit inferior, rival. Reputation and renown win nothing on their own.

The most likely way for Cody’s Wish to get beat is to end up too far behind the pace and not be able to recover the ground. The front-running Zozos (+450) is therefore a big threat, as he has won three of his last four by going gate-to-wire over a mile, stakes races at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park and then his Graded-stakes breakthrough in the 2023 G3 Ack Ack back at Churchill.

The bare form is nothing much, Zozos beating Graded-stakes debutant Stage Raider (+900) by a length, but it is not the form but the function that counts here. Zozos is the lone speed and can control the race, and if he gets loose on the lead at his best distance he could simply stay away.

Sometimes in racing it is not all about being the best horse in the race, but more about being the best race for the horse, and Zozos will get his best race.

Charge It began his career with a big reputation but has not really delivered, missing the board on four of his last five starts. The exception was his cantering victory in a weak renewal of the 2023 G2 Suburban at Belmont over ten furlongs when he led at every call and cleared right away to win by four and three-quarter lengths.

The sharp cutback is not a positive, and he never got anywhere near the heat when a dull fourth in the 2023 G2 Woodward over a mile-eighth at Aqueduct last time.

Treasure lacking that shine

The only Triple Crown-race winner on the grounds this weekend is National Treasure (+475), who enjoyed his moment in the sun when making the most of a soft, slow lead in the 2023 G1 Preakness at Pimlico over a mile and three-sixteenths.

That is, apart from his debut, the only race National Treasure has ever won, and he has missed the board in three starts at G1 level since that success.

He did show a little spark when fourth in the 2023 G1 Awesome Again here over a mile-eighth, chasing the pace before flattening out, beaten four and three-quarter lengths, and he may just appreciate cutting back in distance.

East-coast shipper Skippylongstocking (+800) has also been known to set the fractions and did so to great effect on his most recent start, blitzing the field in the 2023 G2 Charles Town Classic over a mile-eighth and clearing away to win by five lengths.

That continued a period of improvement for Skippylongstocking, who had earlier rallied well to take the place in the mile-eighth 2023 G3 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows, following on from his comfortable success in the 2023 G3 Challenger at Tampa Bay Downs over a mile-sixteenth in March.

That is his level, as he has never looked a G1 horse – not even when a well-beaten third in the 2022 G1 Belmont, flattered by the lack of quality behind him – and finds himself in a tough spot now.

Not quite as tough as for Shirl’s Bee (+2500), though. After two races in Dubai, including when hitting the place in the 2023 G3 UAE 2,000 Guineas over a mile in February, a shockingly bad race that has not produced a single subsequent winner, he reappeared in a stakes at Churchill Downs over a mile and three-sixteenths and finished last of six, beaten more than 17 lengths.

Of all the horses in all the races this weekend, Shirl’s Bee looks the most out of place. No horse has 100 percent no hope of winning, but this is about as close as it gets.

2023 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Prediction

If CODY’S WISH turns up in killer-diller mood then the race is over, no contest, back-to-back wins in the bag and the racing public in floods of happy tears. If he does not, then he will be vulnerable – but he is still very hard to oppose.

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