Thoroughbred Racing

Up the Backstretch: Shackleford tries Dirt Mile again

By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

(Sports Network) - The Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile has only been around a few years, bringing together an assortment of horses with varying degrees of success. Saturday's sixth edition is of similar content.

The sixth running of the $1 million race this year has a field of nine led by 2011 runner-up Shackleford. Installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite, the 4- year-old colt strings together a few quality starts and then throws in a clunker.

Trained by Dale Romans, Shackleford is coming off a second-place finish to Jersey Town in September's Kelso Stakes at Belmont Park. The 2011 Preakness champ set the pace in the mile event before being passed by Jersey Town and finishing 3 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

However, that's a good thing. Shackleford's Kelso came after an eighth-place result at Saratoga in August. The colt never seems to have just one in-the- money effort without posting another strong appearance.

Jersey Town, sixth in last year's Dirt Mile, is the 4-1 third choice off his Kelso victory. In four starts this year, the 6-year-old has the one win to go with a second and one third. Two races back, he was third to Emcee in the Forego at seven furlongs after having the lead in the stretch.

Emcee is a 4-year-old with only seven career starts, but has been made the 5-2 second pick behind Shackleford. Trained by Kiaran McLauglin, Emcee has been off since his Forego win, which was his first stakes victory. Saturday's start will be his first career race beyond seven furlongs and his initial start away from the East Coast.

At 6-1, Fed Biz is a 3-year-old meeting older horses for the first time. He's won three of five career starts highlighted by an El Cajon Stakes win at Del Mar this summer.

Rail Trip is the kind of horse that never produces the same effort twice. After winning the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar in July, he faded to fourth in the Pacific Classic the following month. The 7-year-old gelding is 10-1 in the program, but when right, can find the winner's circle.

Delegation, 12-1 in the morning line, is starting in the United States for only the second time in his career. Based at Woodbine in Toronto, the 3-year- old gelding won the Dunham Cup three weeks ago for his first stakes victory.

John Scott, who has never raced outside of California, is also 12-1 in the program. Third in last month's California Cup Classic, the 5-year-old gelding also has a fourth-place finish at Santa Anita on his resume. He won the Brubaker Stakes at a mile in September at Del Mar after finishing second in the San Diego behind Rail Trip.

Tapizar likes to travel. The 4-year-old colt has raced at four different tracks over his last four starts, including finishing fourth at Santa Anita in the Strub Stakes. His other two career races at Santa Anita resulted in victories in the Sham and San Fernando Stakes. His affinity for the Arcadia track makes his 12-1 morning line seem high.

Second City is making the biggest jump in class among the Dirt Mile entrants. The 3-year-old gelding, 30-1 in the program. has never started at a major racing facility. In his last start, he was 10th to Neck 'n Neck in the Indiana Derby, but began his five-race career with four wins, including the BC Derby at Hastings.

With these facts in mind, let's go with Tapizar, Shackleford and veteran Rail Trip in the Dirt Mile on Saturday.

10/31 11:56:47 ET