A wildly diverse field is signed on to face the starter in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile slated for Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.
Verrazano, who has a puncher's chance of taking home an Eclipse Award as top 3-year-old male with a victory here, will attract considerable attention. With his connections apparently convinced that the More Than Ready colt wants no part of 10 furlongs following subpar efforts in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Travers Stakes, Verrazano seeks to add another grade I to his cache. He won both the Haskell Invitational and Wood Memorial, both at nine furlongs, earlier this season.
BREEDERS' CUP DIRT MILE DRAW
Although he comes in off a poor effort in the Travers, Verrazano has the natural speed to loom a threat at a mile, and his 10 post gives him the option of making, or sitting off the lead.
A reunion is in store for a pair of 4 year olds that dead-heated in the 2012 Travers, Alpha and Golden Ticket.
Alpha, who lost six straight races after that day of glory at Saratoga Race Course, popped up two races back to win the Woodward Stakes. However, he ran out of gas in the Jockey Club Gold Cup after setting the early tempo. In his only one-mile race this season, the Bernardini colt ran fifth of 16 in the Etisalat Godolphin Mile on the synthetic track at Meydan Racecourse. He will start from post 7.
Golden Ticket, who hit the wire with Alpha in the Travers, has struggled in graded stakes company since, losing all six of his races. The Speightstown colt has beaten up on allowance company and won a stakes at Prairie Meadows by daylight, but needs to step up his game here from the 2 hole.
Three horses that finished behind Graydar in the Kelso Handicap are looking for reversals of fortune in the Dirt Mile. Graydar, who would have likely been the favorite, was withdrawn from the Dirt Mile prior to entries being taken Oct. 28 with a quarter crack.
Brazilian-bred Brujo de Olleros is rounding into form, and was within three-quarters of a length off Graydar in the Kelso. Hymn Book charged from between horses to miss second by a neck in the Kelso. He has run in the money in all four starts this year, but hasn't found the winner's circle. Easter Gift was stuck down inside in the Kelso and finished fifth, the only time in six races this year he wasn't first or second. Easter Gift is on the also eligible list and will need a defection to get into the Dirt Mile.
Pants On Fire rides a two-race winning streak into this spot, the most recent coming in the one-mile Ack Ack Handicap at Churchill Downs. He drew post 11.
These invaders from the East will find stiff competition from the local California runners once they get to Santa Anita.
Fed Biz has won Grade 2 stakes at seven furlongs and 1 1/16 miles, the former coming from off the pace in the Aug. 25 Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar. Centralinteligence scored by daylight in the Triple Bend Handicap in June at seven furlongs.
And then there is Goldencents, winner of this year's Santa Anita Derby, who is winless since but has sprinted to a trio of second-place finishes in graded stakes since late July. He drew the outside 12 post.