“I think that was an aberration. I’m not sure it was the synthetic but just him having a bad day, like he had at Gulfstream. He’s run two bad races in his life -- one was in the Gold Cup and one was in Florida in the Donn. I can’t honestly say it was the surface,” Motion said.
Motion expects Bullsbay will continue to develop next year.
“This race will help us to figure out what we’re going to do next year. The (Dubai) World Cup is going to be on synthetics. Obviously, if he handles the synthetic on Saturday, that’s going to be something in the forefront of our minds, pointing to that race,” he said. “If not, we’ll be looking for a fairly serious dirt campaign and stay away from it.”
Jeremy Rose has the mount aboard Bullsbay.
Chocolate Candy – Following a walk in the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, the Dirt Mile prospect went to the paddock for some schooling ahead of Saturday’s race.
Furthest Land – Trainer Mike Maker will have five horses on the Breeders’ Cup programs Friday and Saturday. Four of the five are 2yos -- the other is 4yo Mile contender Furthest Land.
“It’s a lot better than watching it on TV from home,” Maker said of having five Breeders’ Cup starters.
Maker’s two previous Breeders’ Cup runners -- Cherokee Triangle (2007 Juvenile Turf) and Freefourinternet (2004 Classic) -- failed to make an impact.
“Cherokee Triangle’s chances were compromised because of the conditions at Monmouth Park,” Maker said. “We took a shot with Freeforinternet after his upset in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, but he just wasn’t good enough. These horses all fit, so we’ll give them a chance.”
Furthest Land swings back off a victory in the Kentucky Cup Classic, and he is perfect from two starts over synthetic surfaces.
Mambo Meister – Trainer Phil Gleaves scheduled a leisurely morning for Mambo Meister at Santa Anita Thursday morning, designed to have the Spend a Buck Handicap winner get increasingly more familiar with his surroundings.
“We walked him down the stretch with the pony – I was on the pony – then we went to the paddock and schooled him in the paddock. He went three times around there, and we brought him home,” Gleaves said.
Mambo Meister, who’ll be making his first start on a synthetic racing surface in the Dirt Mile, will be ridden by Calder-based jockey Manoel Cruz.
Mastercraftsman – Trainer Aidan O’Brien said questions about distance led to the decision to start the 3yo Danehill Dancer colt in the Dirt Mile rather than the Classic.
“He’s well,” O’Brien said. “He’s a very classy horse His best run was over six furlongs and there was loads of pace. We weren’t sure that he was getting a mile and a quarter. There’s a big chance that he wasn’t getting it as good as some of the others. His forte is speed.
“ Probably because he’s not used to running a mile run on the dirt, he’s probably going to get back a little bit early and then you’re just going to hope that he will come home really well. He’s a big rhythm horse and when he gets into his rhythm he usually comes home really well.”
Mastercraftsman, the 6-5 favorite, has won four Group 1 stakes in Europe. He prepped for the Dirt Mile with a victory over a synthetic surface in Ireland on Oct. 2. He will be ridden by John Murtagh.
Midshipman – The 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner galloped at Santa Anita on Thursday morning under the watchful eye of trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who arrived in California Wednesday afternoon.
Running for Godolphin, Midshipman enters the Dirt Mile off just one race since the Juvenile – a 6 1/2f allowance victory by 3 ¼-lengths at Belmont Park on Sept. 18. He missed nearly a year of training from October of 2008 to September of 2009 after he suffered a soft tissue injury in his left foreleg while training in Dubai.
“He won the first time back, he is coming into the race in good form, this is the right race for him, and a chance to see him win again,” said bin Suroor.
Mr. Sidney – The 5yo Storm Cat horse went for a late gallop in the final set for trainer Bill Mott, as has been his custom this week, and he seems on edge for the Dirt Mile.
“He’s run some big races this year,” Mott said of the Circle E Racing runner who won the Firecracker at Churchill Downs and the Maker’s Mark at Keeneland on turf. He was second in an allowance on Keeneland’s synthetic track in the fall of 2008.
“His one race on synthetic was a very good race, so we’re looking for a big effort from him,” Mott said. “There are some pretty nice horses in here, so he’ll need a big effort.”
All five of Mr. Sidney’s career wins have come on grass and half of his 12 career starts have been at the 1m distance.
Neko Bay – Zenyatta's somewhat forgotten stablemate – also trained by John Shirreffs, ridden by Mike Smith and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss – galloped Thursday under exercise rider Miguel Rodriguez.
“We're very excited about Neko Bay,” said Jerry Moss about the lightly-raced 6yo horse, a homebred who has won four of six Santa Anita starts. “He's been training very well.”
Neko Bay is by Giant's Causeway out of the stakes-winning mare Brulay. Moss said the horse is named for a waterway in Antarctica.
“I was told exciting things happen there,” he said.
Pyro – The 4yo son of Pulpit, who will retire off his start in the Dirt Mile if he does not pursue one final race in Aqueduct’s Nov. 28 Cigar Mile, galloped Thursday morning at Santa Anita. \
Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said he would like to see Pyro make a successful run over a synthetic surface, which he has yet to do after running sixth in the 2008 edition of the Dirt Mile and 10th in the 2008 Blue Grass Stakes.
“This race is very important for the horse,” bin Suroor remarked. “He’s done good so far for us, and hopefully he runs a good race that will be great for us in the future. He’s doing very well.”
Pyro comes into the Dirt Mile off a victory in the Sept. 5 Forego Stakes at Saratoga.
Ready's Echo – Perhaps the most versatile of trainer Todd Pletcher’s 11 Breeders’ Cup entrants, the 4yo son of More Than Ready makes his fourth start on a synthetic surface in the Dirt Mile.
He has never been worse than second on synthetics and galloped 1 1/4m Thursday morning over the main track at Santa Anita.
“He’s pretty much a one-dimensional horse, likes to come from pretty far back,” Pletcher said. “He wants a quick pace, and hopefully we’ll get one.”
Little more than a year ago, Ready’s Echo found himself running in the 1 1/2m Belmont Stakes. Two months ago he was contesting the top sprinters in the East in Saratoga’s Forego and finished a fast-closing third by only a length with Calvin Borel aboard for the first time. Borel will also ride him in the Dirt Mile.
“Calvin rode him in the Forego and rode him very well,” Pletcher said. “The horses’s style and Calvin’s style complement each other pretty well. Calvin really liked him and wanted to ride him again.”