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Got Stormy, coming off an impressive win over males in Saratoga's Fourstardave Stakes, will be looking to replicate that feat when she goes postward as the one to beat in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday.
This 23rd running of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, worth $1 million and contested over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, has attracted a field of 11. Scheduled as the afternoon's ninth race (estimated post time of 5:42 p.m. ET).
Under the terms of the Breeders' Cup `Win and You're In' Challenge Series, the Woodbine Mile winner will be entitled to a fees-paid berth in this year's Breeders' Cup Mile, which will be run at Santa Anita Park on November 2.
Race 9 at Woodbine on Saturday, September 14 - Post 5:42 PM
|1||El Tormenta||20-1||Eurico Da Silva
|3||Silent Poet||15-1||Gary Boulanger
|5||Got Stormy||8-5||Tyler Gaffalione
|6||Awesometank (GB)||8-1||John Egan
|7||Raging Bull (FR)||3-1||Joel Rosario
|8||American Guru||30-1||Rafael Hernandez
|9||Made You Look||12-1||Luis Contreras
|10||Emmaus (IRE)||20-1||Channing Hill
|11||Admiralty Pier||30-1||Patrick Husbands
The four-year-old Got Stormy, owned by Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable, was taking a sharp step upward in the one-mile Grade 1 Fourstardave and doubling up on the Saratoga turf course after capturing the restricted De La Rose Stakes over fellow distaffers a scant week earlier.
Her trainer, Mark Casse, will be looking for his third win in the Woodbine Mile after scoring back-to-back with the supermare Tepin in 2016 and World Approval the following year.
Got Stormy also has experience over the Woodbine Mile course and distance, having become a graded stakes winner last year in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen.
Tyler Gaffalione, who had been the Kentucky-bred's regular rider but had the Fourstardave mount on the Casse-conditioned March to the Arch, will be back in the saddle as he competes in Canada for the first time.
Raging Bull was the second choice in the Fourstardave but, like Got Stormy, the four-year-old French-bred colt found himself well off the pace when runaway leader Gidu opened up by double digits. Rallying wide from last in the field of 10, Raging Bull was beaten 2 ½ lengths but won the battle for second money over favoured stablemate Uni and March to the Arch.
Joel Rosario, who piloted Raging Bull to victory in Del Mar's Grade 1 Hollywood Derby and Saratoga's Grade 2 Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac last year, regains the mount.
His trainer, Chad Brown, is riding the crest of three straight Eclipse Awards and a second consecutive Saratoga training title.
Lucullan is conditioned by Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the 2007 Woodbine Mile with Shakespeare, and races for the international powerhouse Godolphin.
A five-year-old Kentucky-bred, Lucullan showed ability last year and finished second in Belmont's Grade 3 Hill Prince over 1 1/8 miles of turf, splitting subsequent multiple Grade 1 winners Yoshida and Bricks and Mortar.
The turf specialist is two-for-two this year with those victories coming at 1 1/16 miles in an allowance race at Belmont and Saratoga's Lure for non-winners of a stakes race this season.
Luis Saez, aboard for those two tallies, again will do the honours.
Awesometank, a five-time listed stakes winner and placed in two Group 3 stakes in England, will be journeying across the pond for the second time this year.
In her first trip, the four-year-old filly finished second behind Sistercharlie, last year's Eclipse Award winner as Champion Turf Female, in the Grade 1 Beverly D. over 1 3/16 miles at Arlington for trainer William Haggas.
John Egan will travel over for the mount.
Synchrony, winner of the Grade 2 King Edward over one mile of grass here June 29, has been freshened for a return engagement in the Woodbine Mile.
The six-year-old Pin Oak Stable homebred, who is based in Maryland with trainer Michael Stidham, was recording his second Grade 2 stakes win to go along with four Grade 3 tallies, all on the turf.
Flavien Prat, winner of this year's Queen's Plate aboard One Bad Boy and the Kentucky Derby via disqualification with Country House, will ride Synchrony for the first time.
Trained by Conor Murphy, Emmaus is also returning for his first start since finishing fourth in the King Edward, beaten two lengths by the winner.
A three-time listed stakes winner in England, Emmaus debuted in North America this spring for new owners M and J Thoroughbreds and Riverside Bloodstock and finished second, a neck back, in each of his first two starts. On the second occasion, the five-year-old Irish-bred was beaten a neck by fellow Woodbine Mile contestant El Tormenta here in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup over seven furlongs of turf.
Channing Hill gets the call.
Also shipping from south of the border will be Made You Look, a second Chad Brown-trained entrant who was supplemented to the race at a cost of $20,000.
Owned by Three Chimneys Farm, the five-year-old Kentucky-bred won the Grade 2 With Anticipation over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Saratoga as a juvenile and the Grade 3 Dania Beach at 7 ½ furlongs on the Gulfstream grass in 2017.
Locally-based rider Luis Contreras picks up the mount.
Silent Poet, a four-year-old Stronach Stable homebred, is among four local Woodbine Mile entrants with their eyes on the prize and is coming into the race in the best form of his career.
The Ontario-bred gelding had won the restricted Vice Regent at one mile on the grass here last year and is perfect in two 2019 starts with victories in the 6 ½-furlong prep for the Play the King and the Grade 2 Play the King itself over seven furlongs in record-setting fashion.
Regular rider Gary Boulanger will get a leg up from trainer Nick Gonzalez.
El Tormenta won the Connaught Cup in his local bow this spring but then was unlucky in three subsequent tries as he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Highlander at six furlongs on the grass, second in the Play the King prep, and fourth in the Play the King Stakes.
The four-year-old colt, owned and bred by Sam-Son Farm and conditioned by Gail Cox, will have a new rider in Eurico Rosa da Silva.
Sam-Son Farm won Woodbine Miles with Quiet Resolve (via a disqualification) in 1999 and Soaring Free in 2004.
Admiralty Pier, fifth in the Play the King, was Canada's Champion Male Juvenile in 2017 after winning the Display at 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta and finishing a close third here in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at one mile on the grass.
The Kentucky-bred four-year-old gelding, trained by Barbara Minshall for Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford, has been lightly raced in subsequent campaigns with his lone success coming under second-level allowance terms over 1 1/16 miles of Tampa turf this winter.
Patrick Husbands, who previously won the Woodbine Mile in rein to 2001 champion Numerous Times, will ride Admiralty Pier for the first time.
American Guru, another Stronach Stable homebred, has shown plenty of promise as a winner of four of six starts but will be making his stakes debut in the Woodbine Mile.
Resurfacing with trainer Michael Doyle here in July after being away from the races for more than a year, the five-year-old got back on target in his second start with an allowance win over one mile on the inner turf course.
Rafael Hernandez retains the mount on the Kentucky-bred.
The lucrative Ricoh Woodbine Mile program will also feature the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (Grade 1), the $250,000 Canadian Stakes (Grade 2) Presented by the Japan Racing Association, and the $125,000 Bold Venture Stakes (Grade 3).
Woodbine's fall turf season will be in full swing for Ricoh Woodbine Mile weekend, which is also highlighted by a pair of Breeders' Cup `Win And You're In' stakes races for two-year-olds on the Sunday card, the $250,000 Grade 1 Summer Stakes and filly companion Natalma Stakes to be contested over one mile on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
The two-year-old Sunday showcase day also includes a pair of new $100,000 five-furlong stakes to be run over Woodbine's new inner turf course called the Ontario Racing Stakes and the Woodbine Cares Stakes for fillies.
September 10, 2019 - The movie "Raging Bull," screened in 1980, was the story of boxer Jake LaMotta, portrayed by Robert De Niro in an Academy Award-winning performance.
The horse Raging Bull, figures to have a serious fight on his hands when he attempts to turn the tables on the filly, Got Stormy, in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Raging Bull was cutting back to a flat mile with trainer Chad Brown hoping that a good pace would enhance his chances in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga last month. The pace wound up to be scorching but was not particularly of a helpful nature as Gidu sped off to a double-digit lead. That one couldn't come close to lasting the distance, but it left his opponents with a difficult choice as to when to go for the knockout punch.
Got Stormy pulled the trigger earlier than Raging Bull, who was still trailing the field of 10 with a quarter-mile to run and was unable to seriously threaten the winner. He did show tenacity, however, in closing for second money in a late battle with his favoured female stablemate Uni and March to the Arch, who like Raging Bull is conditioned by Mark Casse.
"He ran a good race," said Brown, who is at the Keeneland yearling sales this week with Raging Bull's owner, Peter Brant.
Raging Bull, unraced at two, came out as a sophomore, winning his first two starts prior to ending second when making his stakes debut in Belmont's Manila. The four-year-old Dark Angel colt subsequently has won three stakes, headlined by Del Mar's Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at 1 1/8 miles on the grass last December 1.
In his first try at the mile distance this season, which came in his 2019 debut, Raging Bull finished a close fourth in Keeneland's Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile in his usual honest effort. Will he appreciate the sweeping turn and long stretch run on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course?
"I think so-that's my hope, anyway," said Brown. "He's doing really well."
September 10, 2019 - This Saturday at Woodbine, Awesometank, a four-year-old daughter of Intense Focus, will look to go one better than she did in her impressive Grade 1 effort last time out.
Owned by Lee Yuk Lun Alan, and trained by William Haggas, the dark bay heads into the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile off an outstanding North American debut in the Beverly D. Stakes on August 10 at Arlington.
Under Florent Geroux, Awesometank, at 15-1, finished second to favoured Sistercharlie in the 1 3/16-mile turf feature in Illinois.
England-based Haggas, who trains horses for Queen Elizabeth II, was ecstatic with the performance of the British-bred miss.
"She ran a terrific race in Chicago," he said. "She took to the training really well. As soon as she got there, she loved being ponied on the track. She was relaxed and calm. I knew she was going to run well because she'd gone into the race well."
Prior to a seventh-place effort in the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile at Ascot in July, Awesometank finished second in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes on June 1 at Epsom.
Last year, she took the Coral Distaff at Sandown Park, and in May of this year, she was victorious in the Conqueror Stakes at Goodwood.
In the latter, Awesometank duelled with a rival in the late stages, eventually getting the better of that foe, before Anna Nerium came calling late. At the wire, Awesometank held on for a gutsy head score in the one-mile race run over `good' going.
A five-time winner, along with five seconds, the filly appears to be on the right track heading into her Canadian debut.
Haggas believes the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course suits his starter well.
"It's a big, galloping track," he noted. "And that's what she's used to."
The accomplished trainer knows Awesometank will have to step up her game on Saturday afternoon at Canada's Showplace of Racing. After contesting the Mile, she'll head south of the border to continue her North American racing career.
"We've had her from a yearling," said Haggas. "She's always been a very sound, very tough, very consistent filly. She upgraded her performances in Chicago. The plan is to leave her in America now. After she runs in Canada, she'll go down to Keeneland to run. We'll take it from there."
Mr Havercamp, Canada's 2018 Champion Older Male and Champion Turf Male, has been ruled out of contesting his second straight Mile.
"We weren't 100 per cent with his breeze, and we've decided to wait," said trainer Catherine Day Phillips.
The Ontario-bred, owned by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry (Sean Fitzhenry also bred the dark bay), is an eight-time winner from 14 starts, including six stakes triumphs.
Finishing second to Oscar Performance in last year's Mile, Mr Havercamp boasts three graded triumphs (last year's Grade 2 Play the King and Grade 2 Autumn, and this year's Grade 3 Forbidden Apple) for his connections.
Sent on his way at 13-1 in the Forbidden Apple, Mr Havercamp took control at the stretch call of the one-mile event contested over Saratoga's inner turf course and held on for a half-length victory.
In his latest start, on August 11, the five-year-old Court Vision-Tennessee Lamb gelding finished fourth in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup Stakes.
Mr Havercamp launched his career in 2017, winning his first two races, and four of his first five engagements, including a pair of added-money events, the Vice Regent and Bunty Lawless.
September 8, 2019 - Will the third straight time at Woodbine be the charm for Emmaus?
Trained by Conor Murphy, five-year-old Emmaus, a son of Invincible Spirit, will make his third consecutive start at the Toronto oval, when he goes postward in next Saturday's Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
The Kilcarn Stud-bred dark bay finished second, a neck back of winner El Tormenta, in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on June 1 at Woodbine.
On June 29, Emmaus finished fourth to Synchrony in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes.
For Murphy, it was a tale of two races - one good, the other not.
"In the Connaught, he ran a very good race. Seven furlongs is probably just a bit short for him. He was rushed off his feet that day, and ran a big race... just got beat. I always thought he'd be a better horse going a mile. With the King Edward, I think the Connaught lit him up a bit, and not in a good way. For me, he did everything wrong. He was revved up in the paddock, he got out of the gate and he was very keen. He was doing too much early on, yet he was only beaten two lengths."
Emmaus contested his first eight races in Europe, including a win in his career bow Leicester in September 2016. Last April, again at Leicester, the Irish-bred took the King Richard III Stakes, notching a two-length score in the seven-furlong event raced over heavy ground.
His first North American test came in this April's Elusive Quality Stakes at Belmont, where he finished second to Therapist, missing out on top spot by a neck.
Murphy is hoping the weather forecast calls for some rain in the lead-up to next Saturday's fall turf classic.
"We gave him a little break after the King Edward, and I do think he's back in the right frame of mind. The track is ideal for him (at Woodbine). I would like to see a bit of rain. He doesn't need soft ground, but I don't think he enjoys really firm turf."
Emmaus' lowest finish to date was a 10th in the Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes last July at Goodwood. Although winless since the King Richard III triumph, the M and J Thoroughbreds LLC and Riverside Bloodstock LLC (co-owned by Murphy and his Irish-born, Louisville-based partner Justin Curran), colour bearer is in fine fettle ahead of the Mile.
"I'm very happy," said Murphy. "Mentally, he's in a very good place. He's never been a real flashy work horse... he just does what you ask him. I'm looking forward to next week. He always shows up, so that's a big plus. And he has a very classy temperament. There is nothing bad I can say about him."
Emmaus will be partnered with Jamie Spencer for the Mile. Five years ago, Spencer teamed with Trade Storm to win the race. The veteran rider has enjoyed other successes at Woodbine, including taking two editions of the Northern Dancer aboard Wigmore Hall (2011-2012).
September 8, 2019 - Shakespeare, Kiaran McLaughlin's most recent Woodbine Mile entrant, came into that 2007 edition as a Grade 1 winner and played his role to perfection as the 9-5 choice.
Now, a dozen years later, McLaughlin returns with Lucullan, who is coming off his first stakes score in a restricted turf stakes at Saratoga and will looking to prove his mettle in the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday, Sept 14.
"He's doing very well," said Kiaran McLaughlin, who conditions Lucullan for the international powerhouse Godolphin. "He's ready to go. He's a really nice horse."
Lucullan did not make the races as a two-year-old but found his calling when moved to turf for his third start the following year, winning his maiden at 1 1/16 miles and a first-level allowance at a flat mile before making his stakes debut in Belmont's Grade 2 Hill Prince at 1 1/8 miles.
The Kentucky-bred was beaten a neck there as the runner-up, splitting winner Yoshida and third-place Bricks and Mortar, who have gone on to become multiple Grade 1 stakes winners.
"He showed he had some class," said McLaughlin.
The son of Hard Spun continued in good form at four, but saw action only three times before again going to the sidelines.
"He had some issues behind, a hairline cannon-bone (fracture)," said McLaughlin. "The owner was kind enough to take plenty of time."
That led to a lengthy absence of 14 months before Lucullan resurfaced at Belmont with a sharp allowance score.
"He came back great," said McLaughlin. "He was ready to take a big step up."
Following the Lure, McLaughlin began looking toward the Woodbine Mile.
"There was the Bernard Baruch (at Saratoga) but luckily we had another horse for it, Qurbaan, and he won it," said the trainer.
McLaughlin said the fact that Lucullan gets a break in the weights, carrying 117 points, and the nature of the Woodbine Mile layout also were factors in making this race his target.
"We like that mile, at Woodbine," said McLaughlin. "We feel like it's pretty fair. You get stopped, and in traffic, and coming for home things open up if you're good enough. It's a long stretch."
September 7, 2019 - American Guru will be facing a major test when he not only makes his stakes debut but tries Grade 1 company to boot in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile next Saturday. But, the lightly-raced Stronach Stable homebred has shown enough ability to give his connections reason to believe.
"I think he's a very talented horse," said Michael Doyle, who is the trainer of record for American Guru and also acts as a racing consultant for the Stronach operation. "Jimmy always thought the world of him."
Jimmy, as in New York-based trainer James Jerkins, launched American Guru's career in March of 2018 and saw him finish just a nose shy of being undefeated in that four-start turf campaign. But the now five-year-old son of Unbridled's Song suffered a condylar fracture that summer and wound up being away from the races for more than a year.
"We thought maybe it would be good for him to train here, on the synthetic," said Doyle, who had welcomed American Guru into his barn in early June with a long-term eye toward the Woodbine Mile.
"He had been ready to run, and the only place I could find to run him was the Play the King prep."
American Guru tried the E.P. Taylor Turf Course in that 6 ½-furlong allowance race on July 21. Prominent early, American Guru weakened to finish fifth behind Silent Poet, a Stronach Stable runner trained by Nick Gonzalez who went on to win the Play the King Stakes and also is a Woodbine Mile candidate.
"He got a little tired," said Doyle. "But I thought that the race would have to help him, and if he was going to make the Mile, he needed maybe to run a mile."
That opportunity knocked three weeks later, and American Guru made all the running to score convincingly in an inner turf course allowance race.
Now comes the $1 million question.
"I'm just hoping he moves forward," said Doyle. "I think with a bit of luck he'd have a chance."
American Guru prepped for the Woodbine Mile on Saturday with five furlongs in 1:02.40 on the Tapeta under exercise rider Calvin Giles.
"Everything went great," said Doyle.
September 7, 2019 - El Tormenta, whose name translates from Spanish as "The Storm," has been the victim of poor racing luck in his last three starts after becoming a stakes winner in his local seasonal bow.
Now, trainer Gail Cox will be hoping the four-year-old Sam-Son Farm homebred can find smoother currents in next Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
"He's really had some troubled trips," said Cox. "It's unfortunate, there have been some races that with a better trip he was going to be right there. But he hasn't disappointed us at all, because he's run very well every time."
Perhaps the most frustrating of El Tormenta's traffic woes came last time out in the Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race which serves as the major local prep for the Woodbine Mile.
"He got stuck, didn't get out early, and waited hoping for a hole," said Cox. "It just never happened. He made a huge run. To be honest, a lot of horses wouldn't make a run like that after the trouble he was in."
El Tormenta, one of the first Sam-Son horses trained by Cox, had his first campaign cut short by injury and was gelded over the winter.
Returning to Cox's care the following spring, the Stormy Atlantic-Torreadora gelding burst out of the blocks for a front-running maiden victory over one mile of turf and then finished a good second in the Charlie Barley over the same course and distance.
"He was quite aggressive, when he ran," said Cox. "He was pretty speedy out of the gate, and acted like he didn't want to go that far."
This year, El Tormenta has shown a new dimension in racing from off the pace.
"He seems the same horse to train, but definitely his running style has changed," Cox said. "I had him with me in Florida this year, at Payson Park, and I think it's really good for him to be there to train. We let him grow up a little bit."
Back at Woodbine, the new and improved El Tormenta broke through for his first stakes win in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup over seven furlongs of grass.
New rider Eurico Rosa da Silva will be looking to engineer a change of fortunes for El Tormenta in the Woodbine Mile and Cox believes her charge is ready to retry the longer distance.
"I don't think he's a difficult horse to ride," said the trainer. "He always comes running, and he always gallops out very strong."
El Tormenta had his final tune-up for the Woodbine Mile on Saturday morning, breezing four furlongs in :48.60 with Da Silva in the irons for the first time.
"Awesome," said Cox. "I didn't want a huge breeze. Eurico said he had his hands full; he didn't want him to do too much."
September 6, 2019 - Synchrony was flawless in his first appearance at Woodbine, overcoming a less than ideal trip to get up for a one-length score in the Grade 2 King Edward on June 29, Queen's Plate Day.
"We were experimenting with the one-turn mile, because he hadn't done that," said Michael Stidham, who trains the son of Tapit out of Brownie Points for Pin Oak Stable. "We feel like maybe the mile might be his very best distance."
Next Saturday, Synchrony will be looking to remain perfect over the local course and distance as he seeks his first Grade 1 victory in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
"The Grade 1 is huge," said Stidham, noting that the homebred's stud potential would increase for owners Pin Oak Stable, who also are in the stallion business.
Synchrony had started six times when he debuted for Stidham at the Fair Grounds in February of 2017 and was unplaced in his first start for his new connections. But the now-six-year-old was tried on turf for the first time in his next outing, was an impressive allowance winner, and a new career was born.
"He'd been going through some issues which he had as a three-year-old," said Stidham. "He had some bone-bruising. We had to kind of take our time to get him through that. The owners were very patient and gave me all the time I needed to get him healthy. We tried the grass with him and found that was definitely going to be his preferred surface. He's gone on to do some good things, and we hope he's got some more left in him."
Synchrony has been a gem of consistency, being astutely managed while scoring in four Grade 3 stakes and a pair of Grade 2s including the King Edward.
Unfortunately, the cards have not fallen Synchrony's way in his three previous Grade 1 tries, as each came "off" courses which are not his strength. And while the elements obviously are not in Stidham's control, he has done everything else to forecast a tip-top performance in his biggest test to date.
"The one thing that we've learned about him is that he's always run very well off a freshening," said the trainer. "That was kind of the idea of not trying to run him in between the King Edward and the Woodbine Mile. We thought that just training him up to it, having a fresh horse, would hopefully give us our best chance to come up with his best effort.
September 6, 2019 - Admiralty Pier, a four-year-old son of English Channel-Full Steam Ahead, goes after his second career stakes win and first graded stakes crown in next Saturday's Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Owned by Hoolie Racing Stable LLC and Bruce Lunsford, the Kentucky-bred has one win from four tries in 2019, the victory coming on January 18 at Tampa Bay Downs in a 1 1/16-mile turf race.
Sporting a career record of 3-1-2 in 13 starts, Admiralty Pier, trained by champion conditioner Barbara Minshall, heads into the Mile off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes on August 24 at Woodbine.
"He's been a good horse from the get-go," started Minshall, who was named Canada's top trainer in 1996. "Unfortunately, he's had a few breaks in the program, mainly, he's had some muscle injuries that have recurred. He's a nice horse, and he's training really, really well."
Admiralty Pier launched his career on a winning note, taking a six-and-a-half furlong grass event at Woodbine on August 6, 2017. The chestnut, after getting away sixth, held a head advantage at the quarter-mile mark, eventually going on to a 4 ¾-length win at odds of 11-1.
He finished his two-year-old campaign with two wins (the other coming in the Display Stakes), one second, a third, and a fourth.
The following season, Admiralty Pier's best finish in four starts was a third, that coming in the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland in April.
Now, he'll take on some top-notch talent over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
"It looks like it's going to be a tough race, but it's on home ground, so we're going to take a shot," said Minshall.
One thing Minshall does anticipate is Admiralty Pier showing up with his best effort on September 14.
"He's an honest horse. We got sidetracked after the Tampa Bay race (a fifth-place performance in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes, on February 9). He ran a really good race in Tampa, just beaten a length. We ended up not being able to find a race for him, so we ended up sprinting him a little bit, just to get him back running. But he's not really a sprinter. The Play the King, going as quickly as it did, I thought he gave it a good shot, but he's not a sprinter of that type. He's got a couple of races under him, and he's come out of them really well."
Multiple Sovereign Award-winning rider Patrick Husbands will be in the irons for the Mile. The Bajan native, who has 3,330 career wins, took the 2001 edition of the Mile with Numerous Times.
September 5, 2019 - Stronach Stables' homebred Silent Poet comes into the biggest race of his career, the Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, at the top of his game.
Trained by Nick Gonzalez, the four-year-old Silent Name-Cara Bella gelding heads into the fall turf classic riding a two-race win streak, including a track record performance in the Grade 2 Play The King Stakes on August 24 at the Toronto oval.
Under regular rider Gary Boulanger, Silent Poet set a new E.P. Taylor Turf Course record of 1:19.22 for seven furlongs. It bested multiple stakes winner and 2004 Woodbine Mile (then known as the Atto Mile) champ Soaring Free's former record of 1:19.38, a mark that had stood for 15 years.
"He showed a lot of try last year," said Boulanger after the win. "This year, he's so focused on his job. He's just been a lot of fun to be around. Nick's done a tremendous job with him, I'm just grateful I get to ride him."
Gonzalez, who has 1,504 career wins to his name, including a pair of Queen's Plate triumphs (2010, Big Red Mike, and 2013, Midnight Aria) was admittedly looking ahead to the Woodbine Mile in the final strides of the Play the King, the dark bay's first graded stakes crown.
"I was saying that, yes," offered Gonzalez. "I kind of had thoughts about it before the race, but I was trying to play it cool. After he did what he did, and the way he did what he did, in track record style, you had to be pretty excited. Even though we trainers don't like to get too far ahead of ourselves, you couldn't help but think what might happen in three weeks."
Silent Poet has been as consistent as they come in his career, boasting six wins, three seconds, and a third from 11 lifetime engagements, including a 2018 Vice Regent Stakes victory over one mile of turf. He's banked nearly $400,000 lifetime and has missed the board on just one occasion when competing in last year's Queen's Plate.
Gonzalez knows Silent Poet, who was equally impressive in winning his 2019 debut on July 21 at Woodbine, will have to step up his game even more when he loads into the gate on September 14.
He's confident he can.
"We're just going to keep things simple. We're not going to breeze him because the race comes back in three weeks - we'll just gallop him into his race. It's going to be a different cast of characters for this race, and we know that, but I can't worry about anyone else that's coming. He deserves to be there."
September 5, 2019 - When Got Stormy made her first Woodbine appearance last summer, she was an up-and-coming three-year-old filly who was winning her first graded stakes race in the Grade 3 Ontario Colleen over one mile of turf.
Next Saturday, Got Stormy will be the talk of the town when she returns for the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, an E.P Taylor Turf Course showpiece which will sport a $1 million purse on Saturday Sept. 14.
"That was one of my reasons for coming back there," said Mark Casse, who conditions the Get Stormy-Super Phoebe filly for owners Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable LLC. "Having had some success at Woodbine never hurts."
Another primary reason for Got Stormy's presence in the Woodbine Mile is the fact that she will be seeking her third straight victory over one mile of turf after capturing Saratoga's restricted De La Rose and the Fourstardave, a Grade 1 race in which she defeated males just one week later.
That quick turnaround, even before Got Stormy's highly impressive performance, had become one of the "buzz" stories of the Saratoga meeting.
"I initially had planned going right from the De La Rose to the Woodbine Mile," said Casse. "Gary was the one that pushed so hard for the Fourstardave. I gave him all the reasons why we shouldn't do it and he said, `Okay, that's good, but unless you tell me you're not happy with her I want to run her back in a week.'
"I said, `Okay, fair enough.' And as the week went on between the De La Rose and the Fourstardave, she just got bigger and stronger. She just started thriving. The day we entered, which would been Wednesday, I said, `I don't think I've ever seen her train so good as we did today."
It is inevitable that the No. 1 question that Casse will be asked heading into the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is how Got Stormy stacks up against Tepin, the supermare whom he sent out to win the Woodbine Mile in 2016. The Woodbine Mile was the sixth Grade 1 stakes for Tepin, who had captured the Breeders' Cup Mile the previous year and finished second in that race in what turned out to be her final start in 2016.
Got Stormy may have a way to go before she commands equal billing with Tepin, who also was a two-time Eclipse Award winner in the turf female category. But when Got Stormy returned with a smart allowance score in her four-year-old bow at Gulfstream this March, Casse did speculate.
"I gave her her three-year-old campaign and took her home," said the trainer. "Same thing I did with Tepin. When (Got Stormy) won that allowance race at Gulfstream, it reminded me a lot of how Tepin had done when she came back after giving her a break. I sent the PPs to Gary Barber and said, `It reminds me a lot of Tepin.' I wasn't comparing her yet to Tepin; I just was saying there were some similarities there."
Now, a scant four starts later, mentioning Got Stormy and Tepin in the same breath does not seem to be fantastical.
"After her last race, it was brought to me, `Can we compare her to Tepin?'" said Casse. "I said, `Well Tepin's accomplished a lot of things, but you've definitely got to think you can start talking about it a little bit. She did something no other filly's ever done when she won the Fourstardave. She did it off a week's layoff, and broke the track record by a second.
"I think you can start talking about her about being on the exceptional side. She still has a lot to do and to prove to be in the same league as Tepin but she does seem to be on her way there."
TORONTO, August 30, 2019 - Twenty-eight horses have been nominated to the 23rd running of the million-dollar Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup `Win And You're In' race, to be contested on Saturday, Sept. 14 over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
The list of contenders from across North America and Europe includes Got Stormy, another star filly from the Mark Casse stable who has drawn comparisons to the Canadian Hall of Fame trainer's first Ricoh Woodbine Mile champion, 2016 winner Tepin.
Just one week after winning the De La Rose Stakes, Got Stormy set a track record at Saratoga while becoming the first filly to win the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap on August 10 for owners Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable LLC. The four-year-old Get Stormy miss, who has earned seven wins from 15 career starts and nearly $780,000 in earnings, is now set to return to the scene of her Grade 3 Ontario Colleen Stakes triumph last year for Woodbine's top trainer.
Casse, who also trains nominees March to the Arch and Curlin's Honor, previously won back-to-back runnings of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile with Tepin and World Approval.
North American leading trainer Chad Brown also has three contenders including Fourstardave runner-up Raging Bull and three-year-olds Fog of War, last year's Grade 1 Summer Stakes winner during Woodbine Mile weekend, and Valid Point, undefeated in three starts with his latest being the Grade 1 Secretariat on August 10 at Arlington Park.
Also nominated to the Woodbine Mile from her Arlington Million Day performance is the British-bred filly Awesometank, who was runner-up in the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes while making her North American debut for trainer William Haggas.
Mr Havercamp and Stormy Antarctic, the runner-up and third-place finisher in the 2018 Ricoh Woodbine Mile behind Oscar Performance, will be looking for a winning result this time around.
Local hero Mr Havercamp, who is Canada's reigning Champion Turf Male and Champion Older Horse, will take another shot at Woodbine's signature event for trainer Catherine Day Phillips and owners Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry. The five-year-old son of 2010 Woodbine Mile champion Court Vision has won eight of his 14 races while earning close to $850,000 in purses.
Mr Havercamp was a determined winner in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple Stakes over yielding turf at Saratoga on July 12 defeating Hembree and Qurbaan, who are both nominated to the Woodbine Mile. Most recently, he finished fourth back at the Toronto oval in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup won by the Josie Carroll trainee Mr Ritz, another Woodbine Mile hopeful.
British invader Stormy Antarctic has set himself up for his second voyage across the Atlantic with early season stakes wins in the Group 3 Kalkmann Fruhjahrs-Meile in Germany and Group 2 Premio Presidente della Repubblica in Italy. The six-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding is trained by Ed Walker and owned by Mr. P. K. Siu.
Bred by Toronto's John D. Fielding and Fred W. Hertrich III, double millionaire and multiple graded stakes winner Catholic Boy is poised to make his Canadian debut in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. He will look to secure his third Grade 1 stakes title after successive scores last year in the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational. The Kentucky-bred son of More Than Ready kicked off his four-year-old campaign winning the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico and finished second in Grade 2 Suburban Stakes last time out on July 6 at Belmont Park. Catholic Boy is trained by Jonathan Thomas and owned by Robert V. LaPenta, Madaket Stables LLC, Siena Farm LLC, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables LLC.
Following his record-setting victory in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes last weekend at Woodbine, Stronach Stables' homebred Silent Poet is targeting the Ricoh Woodbine Mile next. Trained by Nicholas Gonzalez, the four-year-old Silent Name gelding established a new E.P. Taylor Turf Course record for seven furlongs in his latest outing, eclipsing the former mark that stood for 15 years and was set by Soaring Free, who went on to win the Mile that year.
Cooler Mike is another Canadian-bred fresh off a victory in the Halton Stakes over 1-1/2 miles of turf on Wednesday night at Woodbine for the local father and son team of Mike Nosowenko and co-owner/trainer Nick Nosowenko.
The Mile could also mark the Woodbine return of Grade 1 Highlander Stakes champion Wet Your Whistle and Grade 2 King Edward Stakes winner Synchrony.
Recognized as one of the best races in the world, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is apart of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. The winner earns an automatic fees-paid entry into the Breeders' Cup World Championships on November 1 and 2 at Santa Anita Park.
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