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Automatic Breeders' Cup berths are on the line as star-laden editions of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, Pattison Summer Stakes, and Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes headline an outstanding card of racing at Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday, September 17.
The 26th running of the Woodbine Mile, worth $1 million and contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course, has attracted an accomplished field of 11 hopefuls.
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 for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile, to be run on November 5 at Keeneland.
The winner of the $500,000 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies, will be entitled to a fees-paid berth for the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 4, while the winner of the $500,000 Pattison Summer Stakes, for 2-year-olds, receives the same opportunity for the $2 million Juvenile Turf, also on November 4.
Once again, the Mile has attracted a formidable group of turf talents, a combination of local and international standouts, accompanied by some of the highest profile trainers and jockeys in the sport.
Race 9 at Woodbine on Saturday, September 17 - Post 5:35 PM
|1||Mighty Heart||20-1||Justin Stein
|2||Ivar (BRZ)||4-1||Joseph Talamo
|3||Wakanaka (IRE)||10-1||Manuel Franco
|4||Finest Sound (IRE)||10-1||Andrea Atzeni
|5||Modern Games (IRE)||7-5||William Buick
|6||Shirl's Speight||12-1||Emma-Jayne Wilson
|7||Homer Screen (BRZ)||10-1||Joe Bravo
|8||Get Smokin||10-1||Rafael Hernandez
|9||War Bomber (IRE)||20-1||Sahin Civaci
|10||Town Cruise||20-1||Daisuke Fukumoto
|11||March to the Arch||12-1||Patrick Husbands
From a Breeders' Cup victor, to a local defending Mile winner, to a two-time Canadian Horse of the Year, to four Irish-breds and two Brazilian-breds, this year's race serves up several intriguing storylines.
Godolphin's Modern Games (IRE) will be making his first appearance back in North America since his memorable Breeders' Cup triumph. Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby will be looking to duplicate their Woodbine success from 2021, as they hit the Pattison Canadian International, Summer and Natalma trifecta.
William Buick will make the trip to ride for Godolphin and Appleby on Saturday.
"We feel that Modern Games will be suited to the E.P. Taylor Turf course because of his versatility," said Appleby. "He has shown he can perform on tracks internationally and in Europe."
The son of Dubawi (IRE)-Modern Ideals, who sports a record of 5-2-1 from 10 starts, won four straight races starting last September through to this May.
As for the 3-year-old's best attributes, Appleby landed on a trio of skills.
"His professionalism that he has shown to date, versatility and class," said the trainer, who chose Modern Games' Grade 1 triumph at Longchamp this May as the horse's most impressive win to date. "He's a progressive horse that every time he was set a challenge, he stepped up again."
Owned by Bonne Chance Farm and Stud R D I, Ivar (BRZ), a two-time Breeders' Cup Mile participant, brings a record of 6-0-2 from 12 starts into the Mile. Trained by Paulo Lobo, the 6-year-old son of Agnes Gold (JPN)-May Be Now arrives at Saturday's race off a win in the $100,000 Jonathan Schuster Memorial Stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis, posting a one-length score in the 1 1/16-mile trek, in a track-record time of 1:39.49.
"When he would race in Argentina, he knows very well how to run a mile with one turn," said Lobo. "It [E.P. Taylor] reminds me a little bit of the course at San Isidro in Argentina, which he used to run on. He's very accustomed to that, so I believe he will enjoy the course at Woodbine.
"His turn of foot is what comes to mind first for me," continued Lobo. "He can really put in a powerful late run. Hopefully, there can be some strong early pace and it will set up nicely for him."
Well-travelled Wakanaka (IRE), owned by Team Valor and Gary Barber, took to the E.P. Taylor Turf Course on July 24 and delivered her connections, including trainer Bill Mott, an impressive win in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes. The 4-year-old daughter of Power (GB)-Storyline (IRE) sports a record of 7-4-1 from 13 career starts.
Trainer Mark Casse, who won back-to-back runnings of the race, in 2016 with Tepin and in 2017 with World Approval, will chase his third Mile victory with a pair of runners.
March to the Arch, a 7-year-old son of Arch-Daveron (GER), ran second in the 2020 Mile and was fourth last year. The Live Oak homebred, who has three stakes triumphs on the Woodbine green, is 8-5-4 from 33 starts.
Casse's other chance for Mile glory comes in the form of Get Smokin, a graded stakes winner in both 2020 and 2021. The 5-year-old chestnut son of Get Stormy-Hookah Lady is 4-5-2 from 20 starts for Ironhorse Racing Stable, BlackRidge Stables, T-N-T Equine Holdings, and Saratoga Seven Racing Partners. This will be the gelding's first test over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Finest Sound, a 5-year-old son of Exceed And Excel-Amplifier, is chasing his first stakes win for owner-breeder Sheikh Mohammed Obaid al-Maktoum. His resume includes a trio of runner-up finishes in group events, including the Group 1 Jebel Hatta Sponsored by Emirates Airline. The Simon and Ed Crisford trainee has recorded 16 top-three efforts from 20 starts and has posted a win, two seconds and a third in his past four engagements.
Team Valor International's Homer Screen (BRZ) won five of his six starts in Brazil before heading to the U.S. to compete. The late-closing 6-year-old son of Adriano-Smile Jenny (BRZ) is 5-1-0 from 10 lifetime races. The chestnut, trained by Neil Drysdale, was second, at 28-1, in the Grade 3 American at Santa Anita on June 19.
Mighty Heart, two-time (2020-21) Canadian Horse of the Year, will look to get back to his winning ways in the Mile. Trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Josie Carroll, the 5-year-old son of Dramedy-Emma's Bullseye has contested nine consecutive graded events, winning the Grade 2 Autumn last November at Woodbine. The one-eyed bay, bred and owned by Larry Cordes, is 6-2-5 from 20 starts.
A five-time winner, along with two thirds, from 12 starts, Shirl's Speight rhymed off three straight trips to the winner's circle from January 15 to April 15, capped off by a gutsy nose nod in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile. Under the tutelage of dual Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield, the 5-year-old son of Speightstown-Perfect Shirl won his debut, a 7-furlong race over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, on July 4, 2020, by eight lengths.
Local hero Town Cruise, a 7-year-old son of Town Prize-Candy Cruise, wired last year's field in the Woodbine Mile, delivering Brandon Greer, who trains, owns, and co-bred with his father Terry, the biggest win of his career. The chestnut gelding has fashioned a record of 6-2-1 from 17 career starts. Daisuke Fukumoto, aboard for last year's 8-1 victory, gets the call on Saturday.
Owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Norm McKnight, War Bomber (IRE), a 4-year-old son of War Front-Sun Shower (IRE) rolls into the Mile off an 18-1 upset in the Grade 3 main track Seagram Cup on August 14 at Woodbine. The bay gelding, claimed by Schickedanz for $25,000 last August, brings a mark of 5-0-1 from 11 starts into Saturday's race.
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile program will also feature the Grade 3 $150,000 Seaway Stakes, for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up. Ten starters will chase top prize in the 7-furlong main track event.
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SEP 11 - Woodbine Entertainment today released the list of probable starters for the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday, September 17 at Woodbine Racetrack.
The $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile headlines a "Super Saturday" of world-class turf racing on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. The $500,000 Pattison Summer Stakes (Grade 1) for two-year-olds and $500,000 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes (Grade 1) for two-year-old fillies will also take place over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course on September 17.
All three Grade 1 races are Breeders' Cup Challenge Series "Win and You're In" events.
The list of probable starters for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile features 12 horses, including 2021 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner Modern Games (IRE).
Godolphin's Modern Games (IRE) will be making his first appearance back in North America since his memorable Breeders' Cup triumph. Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby will be looking to replicate their Woodbine success from a year ago, as they were victorious in the Pattison Canadian International, Summer and Natalma.
William Buick is expected to make the trip across the pond to ride for Godolphin and Appleby at Woodbine.
2021 Ricoh Woodbine Mile winner Town Cruise is expected to try and defend his title. The now seven-year-old was an 8-1 upset winner in the 2021 edition for owner/trainer Brandon Greer and jockey Daisuke Fukumoto.
The list of probable starters also includes recent King Edward (Gr. 2) winner Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), two-time Canadian Horse of the Year Mighty Heart, 2022 Maker's Mark Mile (Gr. 1) winner Shirl's Speight and recent Dance Smartly (Gr. 2) winner Wakanaka.
Final entries for the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile are due Wednesday (September 14) morning.
SEP 2 - Twenty-seven horses have been nominated to the 26th running of the Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Breeders' Cup `Win and You're In' race, to be contested on Saturday, September 17 over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
The impressive list of contenders from across North America and Europe includes Breeders' Cup winner Modern Games (IRE), and a quartet of accomplished Mark Casse pupils, namely, Fev Rover (IRE), Filo Di Arianna (BRZ), Get Smokin, and veteran turfer March to the Arch.
Trained by Charles Appleby, Modern Games (IRE), winner of last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, has assembled a 5-2-1 mark from 10 starts for owner-breeder Godolphin. The 3-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE)-Modern Ideals (GB) won four straight starts, three of them graded, including two Grade 1 victories, from September 8, 2021, to May 15, 2022.
Owned by Tracy Farmer, Fev Rover (IRE), a 4-year-old daughter of Gutaifan (IRE)-Laurelita (IRE), was at the top of her game in the Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association, taking the Grade 2 event for her first North American graded score.
Sporting a record of 7-0-0 from nine lifetime starts, Filo Di Arianna (BRZ) has been a force since coming to Woodbine earlier in the summer. After a sharp allowance win, the 6-year-old son of Drosselmeyer-Principessa Capri (BRZ) has rhymed off back-to-back victories in Grade 2 events, starting with the Connaught Cup on July 23 and in his most recent triumph, the King Edward Stakes on August 21.
Multiple graded stakes winner Get Smokin, a 5-year-old son of Get Stormy-Hookah Lady, who will be testing out the E.P. Taylor Turf Course for the first time in his career. The chestnut gelding, bred in Kentucky, won the 2020 edition of the Grade 2 Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont, and the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes last February.
Casse, who won the 2016 and 2017 edition of the Mile with Tepin and World Approval, respectively, is also represented by March to the Arch. The 7-year-old son of Arch-Daveron (GER) is no stranger to the Mile, having finished second in 2020 and fourth in last year's running. The multiple graded stakes victor is a Live Oak homebred and has fashioned a record of 8-5-4 from 33 career races.
Other notable nominees include Mighty Heart, Canada's Horse of the Year in 2020 and 2021, multiple graded stakes winner Shirl's Speight, last year's Mile hero Town Cruise, and Bill Mott trainee Wakanaka (IRE), recent winner of the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine. Mott won the 1997 race with Geri.
Recognized as one of the top turf races in the world, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is a part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series. The winner earns an automatic fees-paid entry into the Breeders' Cup World Championships on November 4 and 5 at Keeneland.
The lucrative Ricoh Woodbine Mile undercard will showcase the Grade 1 $500,000 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes, and the Grade 1 $500,000 Pattison Summer Stakes, both of which are also Breeders' Cup Challenge `Win and You're In' events. The Grade 3 $150,000 Seaway completes the Saturday stakes superfecta.
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