OTB Race Previews
|Race Tracks||Time (EST)|
The 2018 edition of the prestigious Ricoh Woodbine Mile, which offers `Breeders' Cup Win and You're In' status, has drawn nominations from across North America and Europe. The Grade 1 $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile will be held Saturday, September 15, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
Race 8 on Woodbine's Saturday card with a Post Time of 4:48 PM
|1||Good Samaritan||10-1||Joel Rosario
|2||La Sardane (FR)||15-1||Rafael Bejarano
|3||Delta Prince||5-2||Javier Castellano
|5||Mr Havercamp||6-1||Eurico Da Silva
|Catherine Day Phillips|
|6||Lord Glitters (FR)||4-1||Jamie Spencer
|7||Oscar Performance||7-2||Jose Ortiz
|9||Stormy Antarctic (GB)||8-1||Gerald Mosse
Bill Mott has been a going concern in several previous Woodbine Miles, sending out Geri to win the inaugural edition in 1997; Courageous Cat (2011) and Lea (2015) to finish second; and Long On Value to end a troubled third last year.
On Saturday, Mott will be looking to make his presence felt with Good Samaritan, who will be hoping to resurrect his turf career in the prestigious event.
As a two-year-old, the Kentucky-bred punched his ticket to the Breeders' Cup with a victory in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes over the Woodbine Mile course and distance.
The Harlan's Holiday colt then finished third as the lukewarm choice in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita and ran three more solid races in turf stakes before a career change led him to dirt surfaces.
The move paid immediate dividends as Good Samaritan won Saratoga's Grade 2 Jim Dandy in his first run over a main track.
"We were trying to win a Grade 1 with him," said Mott. "We didn't get that done but he won a couple of graded stakes and was second in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill last fall."
Now, after finishing a well-beaten fifth in Saratoga's Grade 1 Whitney over a very sloppy surface, Good Samaritan will be returning to his turf roots.
"Pretty much his last race we made the choice to switch him back to the turf and see how we get along. The big, sweeping turn there-I think that'll suit him."
Joel Rosario, aboard for all but Good Samaritan's last two starts, will return following a two-race hiatus. "I guess the agent knows when to ride him," said Mott.
Rosario's five previous Mile attempts include a second aboard Lea; thirds with Long On Value and Bobby's Kitten (2014); and fourths with Full Mast (trained by Mott, 2016) and Crowded House (2010).
Fans flocked to see local star Mr Havercamp up close and personal during this past weekend's Backstretch Tour at Woodbine Racetrack, where he will be seeking Grade 1 glory in the upcoming $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday, Sept. 15.
"He's a bit of a ham, he enjoys the cameras," said trainer Catherine Day Phillips, who hosted a stop on the behind-the-scenes tour at her stable and introduced fans to the multiple stakes winner. "He's a pretty cool customer."
Named for the Caddyshack character, the son of 2010 Ricoh Woodbine Mile champion Court Vision is owned and was bred in Ontario by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry. The longtime horse lovers celebrated their first graded stakes win courtesy of Mr Havercamp's impressive run in the Play the King over seven furlongs on August 25 at Woodbine.
In the Play the King, the four-year-old gelding split horses down the stretch and surged to victory while proving he could handle yielding turf conditions.
"He ran a very good race in the Play the King and has come out of it well. We were fairly easy on him for the first week or so because he had a hard race and he's coming up into the Mile in good order," said Day Phillips of the six-time winner who has earned $437,210 from nine career starts. "He had a nice breeze [Saturday]. Not a hard breeze, but a nice breeze. Now he's in good order and he's ready to go."
Following a strong debut season as a three-year-old, Mr Havercamp regrouped from a winter setback while in Florida and kicked off his current campaign defeating Ontario-sired horses in the Steady Growth Stakes on June 16 over 1-1/16 miles on the Tapeta course at Woodbine.
Between both of his 2018 wins, he travelled to Belmont Park where he finished fourth in the one-mile Forbidden Apple turf stakes won by Voodoo Song in mid-July.
"I thought he ran a very good race there. I thought, maybe because of the different track or what not, he was a little bit distracted. It was Junior Alvarado who rode him and he said [Mr Havercamp] just really wasn't paying attention and that probably didn't help his chances. But I thought he ran against a very tough field and I thought he raced well against a tough field. Even if it maybe wasn't his best performance, I thought he ran a good race."
Back at home, Mr Havercamp boasts a perfect four-for-four career record while competing over Woodbine's world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course. His previous turf successes here include last year's Vice Regent and Bunty Lawless Stakes, both contested over one mile.
"He really travels well. He enjoys the attention on the road. There's three people fussing over one horse and he seems to relish in the attention for a good day on the road, but I think this course seems to suit him," said Day Phillips. "He seems to like the long stretch. The added distance in the stretch just seems to suit his running style."
Mr Havercamp will be aiming to become the first Ontario-bred to win the Woodbine Mile in a decade since Rahy's Attorney prevailed in the 2008 edition.
He will be the first Woodbine Mile starter for Day Phillips and the Fitzhenrys. His regular jockey Eurico Rosa Da Silva has competed in this `Breeders' Cup Win And You're In' event eight times before, with his best result a second-place finish in 2016 aboard Tower of Texas.
Da Silva will also ride the Day Phillips-trained two-year-old filly Artilena in Sunday's $250,000 Natalma Stakes, also a Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series event contest over one-mile on the turf.
Owned by George Philip Ledson, Braconcrest, Anderson Farms Ontario and Kingfield Racing Stable, the Artie Schiller filly is the first foal out of the unraced mare Helena's Triomphe, who is a half-sister to Grade 1 stakes winner Collected.
Artilena was a runner-up in her career debut at Woodbine and heads into the Natalma off a maiden-breaking 11-length romp over seven furlongs while racing on the Tapeta track on August 22.
"She's been fairly uncomplicated. Her first start, she had some traffic issues. The race really didn't go perfectly for her, but I think she gained a lot of experience from that race and it also showed that she was a proper racehorse," said Day Phillips. "She came back in her maiden race and, while it was a small field, we couldn't have asked her to do it any better than she did. She just cantered away from everybody, which was a bit nerve-wracking to watch but exciting nonetheless. She's a nice filly, she really is. She's very, very professional."
Artilena breezed five furlongs on the main turf in :59.60 on Saturday in preparation for her stakes debut.
"She seems to settle nicely and she's not over-aggressive. She seems to do whatever is asked of her, which is great for a young horse."
Day Phillips is expected to have six runners in total over the Woodbine Mile weekend including the stakes-debuting mare Veil, who is set to run the $100,000 Sweet Briar Too on Saturday's undercard. Javier Castellano will take the reins for the 6-1/2 furlong main track event for fillies and mares.
Owned by Andrew Rosen, the five-year-old daughter of Hat Trick has consistently finished first or second in four starts racing this year under Day Phillips' care.
"She had a nice breeze [Saturday] morning," said the third-generation trainer. "The stake is a little step up for her, but she's run well, and I think she deserves a chance at the distance she loves and on the surface she seems to love. I think, all being well, we'll give it a go."
Delta Prince enjoyed the finest hour of his career here at Woodbine this June, winning the Grade 2 King Edward over the Ricoh Woodbine Mile course and distance.
Now the up and coming five-year-old trained by James Jerkens will be looking for a new crowning achievement in the Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
"He's a lengthy kind of horse," said Jerkens, who believes the sweeping turn on the E.P. Taylor course is a good fit for his budding star. "He's not short coupled, light on his feet."
Delta Prince has a kingly pedigree as a half-brother to Royal Delta, winner of two Breeders' Cup Distaffs and three straight Eclipse Awards for her division. His dam also produced Crown Queen, victorious in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup on Keeneland's turf course.
So, it is no surprise that Delta Prince is not only talented but has developed into a top-notch turf performer after beginning his career with two decent efforts on the main track. But after displaying steady improvement through 2017, Delta Prince wound up on the sidelines.
Unraced as a juvenile, Delta Prince joined the Jerkens barn at Palm Meadows as a three-year-old and began his career late that year, making his first two starts on the dirt in New York.
"The first time he ran real green," said Jerkens. "Then, in the mile race he ran well, but he was hitting his pasterns real bad. So I thought I'd try him on turf, and he wouldn't hit his pasterns. The first time he ran on turf, he ran off the screen. I've kept him on turf ever since."
Delta Prince continued his upswing on the grass but went to the sidelines in early September after finishing a good third in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Saratoga.
"He had some little nagging things that just got the better of him," said Jerkens. "We were keeping him going but we didn't want to risk serious injury. He just needed lots of time."
That prescription appears to have paid off in spades as Delta Prince, making his first start in almost 10 months, returned victorious in the King Edward.
In his lone start since then, Delta Prince wound up farther off the pace than planned and could not run down a loose-on-the lead Voodoo Song in Saratoga's Grade 1 Fourstardave over one mile of "good" turf.
"I thought he ran very well," said Jerkens. "The course was a lot softer than he likes and he broke real flat-footed or he wouldn't have been that far out of it. He had to make a big, long run and that's hard on soft turf.
"Since he's come back, so far, he's the best he's ever been for a long time."
Three-time Ricoh Woodbine Mile-winning trainer Neil Drysdale will be taking aim at a record grand slam in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series race on Saturday, Sept. 15, this time pinning his hopes on filly La Sardane.
In 21 editions, only two other female runners have won the Woodbine Mile: Tepin (2016) and Ventura (2009).
Owned by Team Valor International, La Sardane was riding a three-race win streak into her Woodbine debut on August 25 in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes but finished fifth behind local champion Mr Havercamp after setting the pace in the seven-furlong event over a yielding turf.
"She couldn't handle the ground. It was too soft for her in the Play the King," said Drysdale, noting the four-year-old French-bred filly remained at Woodbine following the race and worked well yesterday breezing six furlongs on the turf in 1:12.40.
"She's a strong filly, she has tactical speed so on we go. We're trying against the boys one more time."
La Sardane's previous stakes wins include the Grade 3 Intercontinental over seven furlongs and the Perfect Sting over one mile, both on turf at Belmont Park. While racing in France under the tutelage of Bruno de Montzey at age two and three, the Kingsalsa-Foresta filly also won the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham over the one-mile Chantilly turf course.
Based at Santa Anita, the Hall of Fame trainer has sent out 11 starters in the Woodbine Mile, winning his debut with Labeeb in 1998 and later editions with 2003 champion Touch of the Blues and 2006 winner Becrux, co-owned by Team Valor. He also won the Molson Export Million, the precursor to the Mile, in 1989 with Team Valor's Prized. While Drysdale has enjoyed tremendous success in this race before, he laments the 1999 edition in which his trainee Hawksley Hill was disqualified as the winner and placed fourth after judges ruled in favour of an interference claim of foul in the stretch.
Drysdale's last win at Woodbine was in the 2010 Grade 2 Sky Classic courtesy of double millionaire Marsh Side, who also captured the Grade 1 Canadian International and Northern Dancer Turf Stakes in preceding years.
In addition to La Sardane, Vexatious will be running against the boys in this year's $300,000 Northern Dancer featured on the Woodbine Mile undercard. Owned by Calumet Farm, the four-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway and Dream of Summer is the only filly nominated to the 1-1/2-mile Grade 1 stakes.
Vexatious was a solid contender in graded stakes action during her sophomore year with top three finishes in the Grade 2 Fair Ground Oaks and Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park as well as running fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. She is heading into her initial graded event of the season, coming off her first victory since a maiden win at two.
"She beat a good filly the other day going a mile and three-eighths and we always felt she was a mile and a half filly so we're going to try," said Drysdale, referring to Vexatious' mid-August victory on the turf in the CTT and TOC Stakes over graded stakes winner Queen Blossom at Del Mar.
"It fits into her schedule well. She really has no grass racing in California right now."
The Kentucky-bred filly, who is a full sister to multiple graded stakes winners Destin and Creative Cause, arrived at Woodbine on Tuesday morning and breezed six furlongs on the turf yesterday in 1:14.
Both La Sardane and Vexatious will be ridden by jockey Rafael Bejarano, who last raced at Woodbine in 2009 and was victorious in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes aboard Princess Haya. That year he was runner-up in his first Mile start in rein to Ferneley.
Last time out, multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Divisidero finished third in New York. Next Saturday, the Kelly Rubley trainee will look to make his Canadian debut a winning one in the Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Sent off at 10-1 in the Fourstardave on August 11 at Saratoga, the six-year-old son of Kitten's Joy took show honours in the Grade 1 feature, finishing two lengths behind runner-up Delta Prince who was a neck back of the winner, Voodoo Song.
One start earlier, the late-charging Gunpowder Farms colour bearer bobbled at the start, but rallied impressively, this time making the trip to the winner's circle the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap on July 7.
"It was a tremendous effort," praised Rubley of the Arlington score. "He's just a fantastic horse."
Rubley, who took over from conditioner Buff Bradley after the horse's 2017 campaign, has also saddled Divisidero to a second-place finish in the Monmouth Stakes (G2T) May 26 and a fourth-place showing in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs June 16.
"It's certainly been an experience," Rubley said of taking over Divisidero, who twice won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1T) at Churchill Downs. "It's very exciting."
The Kentucky-bred, who fashions a record of 6-3-4 in 20 starts, will have regular rider Jevian Toledo in the irons for the Mile, a Breeders' Cup `Win and You're In' event.
Rubley is looking forward to bringing her charge to Canada for his first test on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
"We're excited to come up there," she said of the lifetime earner of over $1.3 million. "I think he'll really take to the course. I thought he ran a great race at Arlington and hopefully he can do the same at Woodbine. He's coming into the Mile as happy as he can be."
Divisidero, who has one win, one second and a third from four 2018 starts, was bred in Kentucky by Hinkle Farms and is the fourth foal out of the Lemon Drop Kid broodmare Madame Du Lac. He was purchased for $250,000 (U.S.) by Margaux Farm from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, where he was consigned by his breeders.
Stormy Antarctic will not be cold on the board in Saturday's Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
The Ed Walker trainee brings solid recent form to the $800,000 Breeders' Cup `Win and You're In' event, including a Group 2 win in the Badener Mile at Baden-Baden on May 31; a strong second to Benbatl in the Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr in Munich on July 29; and last time out, the gelding was a determined third behind Beat The Bank and Whisky Baron in the Group 2 Ladbrokes Celebration Mile Stakes, at Goodwood.
"He ran great at Goodwood. He's been remarkably consistent this year, really," said Walker. "He got into the race like he was going to go on and win and just didn't quite get there.
"I think Liam (Keniry), who rides for me a lot but was riding him for the first time, maybe thought he'd pick up better than he did but he ran a great race. He was beaten by the right horses."
Walker will hand the reins to Gérald Mossé for Saturday's one-turn mile over the world-famous E.P. Taylor Turf Course and the British-bred Stormy Atlantic gelding could not be in better form.
"He's training great as always and looks fantastic. He's a great traveler and everything is positive," said Walker. "He's taken everything very well this year and we've spaced his races out pretty well. I'm not being too greedy because I want him to last and he's rewarding us by being very consistent."
With six wins, six seconds and four thirds from 22 career starts, Walker is keen to see his popular chestnut breakthrough at the top flight.
"He deserves a big one. He's been second three times now in Group 1 races. He's a Group 2 winner, a Group 3 winner and a listed winner. You wouldn't find a more qualified non-Group 1 winner," said Walker. "He deserves a Group 1 and we've had this race in mind for a long time and think it would be absolutely ideal for him."
Walker believes Saturday's competitive group of turf milers, which includes fellow European raider Lord Glitters, is within reach for the well-traveled Stormy Antarctic.
"It looks wide open. I think there's very little to separate Lord Glitters and Stormy Antarctic. I think you could run those two against each other a handful of times and keep changing the result. They're very similar types of horses," said Walker.
The veteran Mossé, who won the 2012 edition of the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes here at Woodbine with Siyouma, lands on a versatile horse in Stormy Antarctic for Saturday's Grade 1 test.
"As a colt, he was quite tricky and got quite keen in his races. This year, he's been so much more straightforward," said Walker. "He made the running winning a Group 3 in France (Prix Edmond Blanc at Saint-Cloud) and he was held up off the pace and ran great at Goodwood last time; and same when he was second in the Group 1 in Germany. He's now very versatile as of this year.
"It's another reason he's a good traveller. He doesn't succumb to pace," continued Walker. "If there's no pace, he can bowl along."
Although there is sun in the forecast for Saturday's Ricoh Woodbine Mile, Walker wouldn't mind if the meteorologists were off form.
"He's got very good form on soft ground and he's been second in a Group 1 on fast ground, so he is very versatile," said Walker. "If the rain kept coming it would inconvenience other horses more than mine. Rain is always welcome."
Pursuing a route that has proven successful in the past for the Irish jockey-turned-trainer David O'Meara, European invader Lord Glitters is jet-setting across the Atlantic Ocean with the hopes of following in the hoofprints of 2015 Ricoh Woodbine Mile champion Mondialiste.
Like O'Meara's past contender Mondialiste, the stunning grey Lord Glitters will fly into Woodbine's signature one-mile turf stakes following his first Group stakes win in the Sky Bet & Symphony Group Strensall over 1-1/16 miles of turf at York.
"He did it well," said O'Meara. "He'd been running pretty well all year - ran well at Royal Ascot in the Queen Anne, ran well at Ascot again on the round track in the Summer Mile, and again at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes - he was unlucky not to be closer that day; he got into a bit of trouble in running. He's been in good form all year."
Mondialiste had also entered his initial Woodbine Mile start off a winning performance in the Strensall and went on to finish second in the Breeders' Cup Mile behind Tepin, then won the Arlington Million the following year. He turned in a fourth-place finish behind World Approval in his attempt at a Woodbine Mile double last year and now stands at owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull's Elwick Stud in the North of England.
"It's a road we've taken before and I was looking for somewhere to run him between now and Ascot on Champions Day and this race fits well," said O'Meara of his decision to send Lord Glitters to the $800,000 Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Breeder's Cup `Win And You're In' event. "It was either here or take him to Ireland, and the money in Canada is better."
The five-year-old Whipper-Lady Glitters gelding has been a model of consistency finishing no worse than third while competing in Great Britain stakes action over the past two years. Lifetime, he sports a record reading 6-8-1 from 17 starts with more than $800,000 in purse earnings.
"Look, he's just very good," said O'Meara. "He's got a huge engine in him. He's well able to quicken up in his races. He's got a really, really good turn of foot."
Jamie Spencer, who won the 2014 Woodbine Mile in rein to Trade Storm, will pick up the mount. He was aboard the French-bred gelding for his close runner-up efforts at Ascot this year in the aforementioned Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and Group 2 Summer Mile.