In his review of the Breeders’ Cup, DRF’s Mike Watchmaker had this to say about City of Light and the Dirt Mile itself:
While I am in full agreement that City of Light was sensational, I disagree with the overall tone and some of the specific points Watchmaker made here. For one, he argues that the Dirt Mile “can and does weaken other Breeders’ Cup races”. Does he also feel that that Filly and Mare Turf and Filly and Mare Sprint weaken the Turf and Sprint? Because they do. Fillies have won both the Sprint and the Turf. In fact, two of the last four Turf winners were fillies. Might Sistercharlie have completed the trifecta or superfecta in this year’s Turf? Also, I don’t see why it’s relevant that there is no Eclipse Award category for Dirt Miler. Does the fact that the Breeders’ Cup has added the word “Championships” to the event as a marketing ploy somehow mean each race has to contribute to the ultimate decision of who wins awards in January? I say no.
The Dirt Mile was a logical race to add to the BC lineup. Most of today’s top horses don’t want to go 1 1/4 miles, including most of the field for this year’s Classic if we are being honest. My God, what a staggerfest that final 1/4 was. And if the only other dirt race for 3yo and up was at 6F, you’d have a number of horses either pass on the Breeders’ Cup or run hopelessly at distances to which they are not suited. I know Watchmaker isn’t suggesting the Dirt Mile should go away. But he doesn’t seem to be a fan of it from his statements above. And as for City of Light, I think the Dirt Mile was THE perfect spot for him. He tried 10 furlongs before. It appeared to be too far that day. And while City of Light has been brilliant at 7F, it seems to me that 7F specialists often are not great plays at 6F. Plus, what about horses that thrive at, say, 9 furlongs? Should they either stay in the barn on BC Day or run in the Classic?
I love the Dirt Mile. And even if you think City of Light could have won the Sprint or Classic this year (and I do not), most years, the Dirt Mile features a field of horses that aren’t at their best at the other two distances.