The start of the 2016 Brooklyn Invitational - © Nikki Sherman/Adam Coglianese Photography

The start of the 2016 Brooklyn Invitational (G2) – © Nikki Sherman/Adam Coglianese Photography

Who says long-distance dirt races are dying out in North America? Maybe they’re not as common as they used to be, but the field for Saturday’s $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (G2) suggests genuine dirt route races are still alive and well.

The Brooklyn serves as the final race at Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day, providing bettors with one last opportunity to cash winning tickets on a top-class day of racing.

Despite the diminishing number of long-distance dirt races in North America, the Brooklyn has actually attracted a strong field of proven route runners. There’s #7 You’re to Blame, winner of the 1 1/2-mile Greenwood Cup (G3) at Parx. There’s #6 Rocketry, who broke Man o’ War’s 98-year-old track record when prevailing in the 1 5/8-mile Temperence Hill Invitational at Belmont. And there’s #4 War Story, winner of the 2017 Brooklyn Invitational; #1 Marconi, easily victorious in the 1 3/8-mile Flat Out Stakes at Belmont in May; and #3 Sonneteer, a powerful 7 1/4-length winner of the 1 1/2-mile Champions Day Marathon Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs in April.

And then there’s #2 Campaign. A son of Curlin out of a Dynaformer mare, Campaign is bred top and bottom to thrive running 1 1/2 miles, and this versatile 4-year-old has shown a clear affinity for running long distances. He broke his maiden going 1 1/2 miles on turf at Kentucky Downs last year, and after switching to dirt during the winter at Santa Anita Park, he unleashed a powerful rally from behind a slow pace to win the 1 1/2-mile Tokyo City Cup (G3) by 3 1/4 lengths.

Campaign really had no business winning the Tokyo City Cup after rating in last behind slow fractions of :26.01, :51.57 and 1:18.18, but he was full of run down the homestretch and reeled in Beach View (himself a graded stakes winner going 1 1/2 miles) to prevail with authority.

Campaign is clearly on the rise this year for trainer John Sadler, who took over conditioning duties three starts back, and with just eight runs total under his belt, Campaign has room for further improvement in the Brooklyn. A bullet workout June 1 at Santa Anita adds to Campaign’s appeal, as does the presence of four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano in the saddle.

Based on Campaign’s pedigree and improving form, I’ll bet him to win and key him in the top two slots of a trifecta.

$12 to win on #2 Campaign
$1 trifecta: 2 with 4,6,7 with 1,4,6,7 ($9)
$1 trifecta: 4,6,7 with 2 with 1,4,6,7 ($9)

Good luck!