Musical Chimes still a possibility
The 21st Breeders' Cup Mile drew 19 pre-entries, a typical number for what normally is the most oversubscribed race in the Breeders' Cup. But almost everyone who really wants to run may actually get to run.
Three of the five listed alternates have a first preference in a different BC event: Balto Star (Turf), Bowman's Band (Classic), and Freefourinternet (Classic). Assuming those horses opt for their first preference, and if Musical Chimes does not start, as seems entirely possible, then 15 horses would still want into the race, leaving Honor in War as the lone alternate outside the 14-horse limit.
Neil Drysdale, the trainer of Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile winner Musical Chimes, said Wednesday that he "cannot clarify" whether the filly will start. Last weekend, Drysdale said Musical Chimes would bypass the Mile in favor of the Grade 1 Matriarch next month. Apparently there are still ongoing discussions about the filly's BC status between Drysdale and representatives of the filly's owner, Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum.
"At the moment, she's pre-entered," Drysdale said from Hollywood Park. "If she ships, we will do it the Wednesday before the race."
Once the field composition is settled, racing fans will turn to handicapping the Mile and, as usual, will find it to be a very compelling exercise.
Besides Musical Chimes, the Mile attracted another filly, who happens to be the defending champion: Six Perfections. She will bid to become the fourth two-time winner of the Mile, after Miesque (1987-88), Lure (1992-93), and Da Hoss (1996, 1998). Jerry Bailey, who won last year aboard Six Perfections, has the mount back again.
The Mile has an intriguing European element. Six Perfections, Whipper, and Diamond Green - all of them regarded as legitimate contenders - are based in France, while Antonius Pius, a lesser light, will ship from England.
There is the hot-horse angle: Nothing to Lose ran so well in winning his last start, the Shadwell Mile, that Daily Racing Form's national handicapper, Mike Watchmaker, has pegged him the lukewarm favorite on the early morning line. Also, Mr O'Brien, Soaring Free, and Artie Schiller all enter off terrific victories.
There is the 3-year-old angle: Five of the pre-entered horses are 3 - Artie Schiller, Blackdoun, Whipper, Diamond Green, and Antonius Pius. Seven of the previous 20 Mile winners were 3-year-olds.
And then there is the Canani angle. Julio Canani, who won the 1999 Mile with Silic and the 2001 Mile with Val Royal, has been content to bring his California-based duo of Blackdoun and Special Ring into the race more on training than racing. Canani has insisted that both horses will run big fresh.
"They are doing awesome," said Canani.
Both Blackdoun and Special Ring were among a handful of horses posting recent workouts for the Mile. Special Ring went five furlongs in 1:00 over a "good" Santa Anita main track Tuesday, a day after Blackdoun went seven furlongs in 1:28.20 over a "good" Santa Anita turf course.