Nineteen horses were pre-entered for the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), Oct 17, headed by Europe's probable champion miler, Godolphin's Noverre, and two California runners, Sheikh Maktoum's Irish Prize and David Milch's Val Royal. Two of the five runners on the preference list, Godolphin's Express Tour and Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber's Crystal Music, got lucky over the weekend at the expense of British-trained No Excuse Needed and Californian I Love Silver who came out of the race.
It also appeared likely that the remaining pair on the preference list would draw in with the possibility of Crystal Music and Hap defecting to other Breeders' Cup races.
The one-turn Mile, to be run as the third Breeders' Cup race, will go with two horses supplemented at 9 percent of the purse. Val Royal, winner of the Oak Tree Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IIT) by two lengths and Express Tour, who came down by nearly six in the Jerome Handicap (gr. I) on the Belmont dirt.
Albert Fried Jr.'s Affirmed Success will be making his fourth Breeders' Cup appearance -- equaling the record held by Precisionist and Pleasant Tap -- after running in the Sprint (gr. I) twice before finishing fourth in last year's Mile. Trainer Richard Schossberg worked the 7-year-old son of Affirmed four furlongs in :47 4/5 Tuesday morning. "His ears were up and he was waiting to do more," declared the trainer.
From Canada comes Numerous Times, a lively outsider, who beat Affirmed Success and Irish Prize when he took his unblemished record to six in Woodbine's Atto Mile (Can-I) under Patrick Husbands. The 4-year-old son of Numerous worked Monday at Woodbine (5 fur., 1:03 3/5).
Val Royal represents trainer Julio Canani, whose Silic took the Mile two years ago. The son of Royal Academy, who collected the 1990 Mile, worked at Santa Anita (4 fur., :48) before boarding a Tex Sutton charter the following day.
Noverre and Express Tour undertook their final tune-ups Oct 19, both going five furlongs (1:01 4/5 and 1:01 2/5 respectively) on the Belmont main track for Godolphin assistant trainer Tom Albertrani. Frankie Dettori will partner the former while John Velazquez will ride Express Tour.
Neil Drysdale will try to enhance his sterling Breeders' Cup winning percentage with Irish Prize, who has been at Belmont since the Atto. Drysdale took last year's Mile with War Chant. "I think this is the best Irish Prize has been," said the expatriate Englishman. "He's held his form well this year and has shown he's willing to fight for a win."
British bookmaker William Hill make Noverre their 100-30 favorite ahead of 5-1 Irish Prize with Val Royal and Affirmed Success both on 6-1 in advance of Wednesday's post position draw.