Life Is Good gallops at Keeneland in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (Coady Photography)
By Margaret Ransom
The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, sponsored again this year by Big Ass Fans, was run for the first time in 2007 at Monmouth Park in the first year the world championships event expanded beyond the single day of racing.
Initially because of the configuration of Monmouth’s main track and the fact the track doesn’t regularly offer races at a flat mile, the Dirt Mile was actually contested at about a mile and 70 yards. And in the 2015 and 2020 runnings (and again this year over Keeneland’s main track), because the facility doesn’t regularly offer races at a mile the start of the race, as well as the finish of the race, were both backed up to keep the race distance as close to a mile as possible. The starting gate was placed 70 yards before the one-mile pole and the finish was set at the alternate finish line at the sixteenth pole making the race slightly longer than a mile.
Goldencents in 2012 and 2013 remains the only repeat winner of the race and the honor continues as last year’s winner, Life is Good, will contest the Classic later on the card. And so far, no Dirt Mile winner has gone on to earn an Eclipse Award in any division.
The race was ungraded in 2007 and 2008 and was elevated to grade 1 status by 2009. Hall of Famers Jerry Hollendorfer (Dakota Phone, 2010; Battle of Midway, 2017) and Todd Pletcher (Liam’s Map, 2015; Life is Good, 2021) has saddled two winners, while jockeys Rafael Bejarano, Javier Castellano and Joel Rosario have each been in the irons for two winners.
Albertus Maximus in 2008 still owns the stakes record for the one-mile distance (or about one mile) when he stopped the teletimer in 1:33.41 at Santa Anita in 2008.