Heavy rains all day Tuesday brought back memories of the water-logged Breeders’ Cup of 2007 at Monmouth Park – the lone time the World Championships ventured to the Jersey Shore.
Eddie Kenneally, who considers Lexington home and is excited for the Breeders’ Cup’s return to the Commonwealth, wouldn’t mind if Bradester felt like he was back in New Jersey when he goes in Friday’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.
“He really loves Monmouth and his Monmouth races are in a different league aren’t they?” Kenneally said earlier this week while he watched Reverend Green, entered in a maiden-claiming race Thursday, train at Keeneland.
Bradester would certainly merit strong consideration if the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile were being run at Monmouth, where he won two graded stakes this season and sports a record of 2-3-0 in five graded-stakes starts the last two years. The 5-year-old son of Lion Heart deserves respect at Keeneland, too, even though none his 20 career starts have come at Keeneland despite Kenneally’s strong presence in the state.
Bradester has run seven times down Interstate 64 at Churchill Downs, winning twice, including the Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap last September. Kenneally shipped Bradester to Keeneland in late September from his string at Belmont Park and worked the horse three times at Keeneland in preparation for the Dirt Mile.
Two of Bradester’s works earned black numbers – 5 furlongs in :59 Oct. 10 and 5 furlongs in :58.60 Oct. 17.
“He seems to like this track, he worked well on it, but he’s never run on it,” Kenneally said. “Thankfully he’s worked on it. Now we’ll see how he races on it.”
Bradester comes into the Dirt Mile off a second in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin Stakes Aug. 30 going 9 furlongs at Monmouth. Prior to that he won the Grade 3 Salvator Mile and the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup going 1 1/16 miles.
“A mile and an eighth is a little far for our guy,” Kenneally said of the Iselin, where Bradester only finished 3 1/2 lengths behind next-out stakes winner and fellow Dirt Mile entrant Valid. “I think a mile is his best strength.”
Bradester’s strength is his front-end or tactical speed, which he will most likely use from his No. 2 post-position in the field of 11 entered Monday for the Dirt Mile. Liam’s Map, the even-money favorite and winner of the Grade 1 Woodward, is just to Bradester’s outside and the expected pacesetter in the Dirt Mile.
Even with a formidable favorite in Liam’s Map, the 2015 Dirt Mile looks like one of its best renewals since the first running in 2007 at yes, Monmouth Park.
In addition to Liam’s Map and Bradester, the Dirt Mile field features recent Jockey Club Gold Cup runner-up and 2014 Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong, 2014 Donn Handicap winner Lea, Kelso Handicap runner-up and Pacific Classic third Red Vine and 2014 Dirt Mile runner-up Tapiture.