When trainer Conor Murphy acquired Dimension from Great Britain in 2012, he believed the gelded son of Medicean would make a good miler in North America.
Instead, the now-6-year-old has proven to be more of an accomplished sprinter and he will be seeking his second straight stakes win at 6 1/2 furlongs on grass when he lines up in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park Nov. 1.
"He is showing a lot more speed as he gets older, which is surprising," Murphy said of Dimension, who finished fifth, only three lengths behind champion Mizdirection, in last year's Turf Sprint. "I was delighted with his (Breeders' Cup) run last year. I was expecting him to run well as he had run well in England at places like Goodwood and Newmarket over courses that were pretty undulating."
During its six-year history, the Turf Sprint has been run four times over Santa Anita's unique downhill turf in which the horses cross the main dirt track as they run onto the main turf course in front of the grandstand. That brief move over the main track has been known to throw off some contenders, especially those unaccustomed to it. All four Turf Sprints at Santa Anita have been won by local horses.
"Probably crossing that track for the first time might have taken a little momentum out of him last year," Murphy said of the 2013 World Championship. "Obviously the winner was a very, very good filly."
Bred in Great Britain by Cheveley Park Stud, Dimension won three of 13 starts before being imported to North America. Now raced by Riverside Bloodstock, Dimension has a career record of 5-6-1 from 25 starts, with converted earnings of $369,577.
After giving his charge a break from competition following last year's Breeders' Cup, Murphy brought Dimension back in the Commonwealth Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in April. After leading throughout in the seven-furlong test over Polytrack, Dimension was caught late by Occasional View to finish second. That was followed by a ninth in the Connaught Cup (Can-IIT) at Woodbine and a third in Woodbine's Play the King Stakes (Can-IIIT). Dimension won the latter race last year.
In his tuneup for the Breeders' Cup, Dimension broke slowly before rallying while four-wide to win the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash at 6 1/2 furlongs at Kentucky Downs, his best showing of the year.
"He has only made four starts this year and he's really coming to hand at the right time," Murphy said. "He has always been pretty good from the gate but three starts back he stumbled out of the gate and he's been a bit careful at the start the last couple of times.
"He missed the kick in the race at Kentucky Downs, but he made the ground up easily. He is showing a lot more speed as he gets older, which is surprising. He made up the ground quite easily and was really just getting going at the end. It should be a nice prep for him coming into this race."
Echoing the sentiment of other trainers pointing toward the Turf Sprint, Murphy said the absence of the retired Mizdirection, winner of the race the past two years, opens up opportunities.
"There is no Mizdirection, so that gives everybody a bit of hope," Murphy said. "He needs to improve on all his form to get involved. He will run his race and that's all you can ask."