The race we now know as the Woodbine Mile was not originally run at a mile. It was originally called the Molson Export Challenge, restricted to three-year-olds, and run at ten furlongs starting in 1988. In 1991 the race shortened up to nine furlongs, and was further shortened to a mile in 1997. That 1997 edition also marked the first year in which the race was open to older horses.
Mondaliste wins the 2015 Woodbine Mile. He would finish second behind Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile that year, and win the Arlington Million (G1) the following year. His trainer, David O’Meara, sends out Lord Glitters for this year’s Mile.
The Woodbine Mile has been a Win And You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile since 2008, and this year the $800,000 race maintains that status. It has been a strong prep for that race; last year, the Woodbine Mile exacta of World Approval over Lancaster Bomber came in once again at Del Mar. The form carrying to the Championships was no anomaly. In fact, every single winner this decade has finished in the money in the Breeders’ Cup Mile the same year they won at Woodbine. Court Vision (2010), Wise Dan (2012-2013), and World Approval (2017) won. Turallure (2011), Mondialiste (2015), and Tepin (2016) were second; Tepin had won it the year before. Trade Storm (2014) finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile that year.
Selections are for turf only.
Race 8: Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1), three-year-olds and up, one mile on the turf, post time 4:48pm EST
This year’s Woodbine Mile drew a field of nine: a competitive group, but one without a lot of early gas. That should play right into OSCAR PERFORMANCE’s favour. Though LA SARDANE has also shown some early speed, OSCAR PERFORMANCE should be able to clear that one if he wants — or, be able to set in close range if he doesn’t want to, or if LA SARDANE really feels the need to force the issue. Either way, the flow of the race should be something OSCAR PERFORMANCE can easily handle. The mile should suit him, as well; though he is also effective going longer than that, he has won both his career turf miles, including a romp in the Poker Stakes (G3) to start the year. Finally, even though OSCAR PERFORMANCE has never raced at Woodbine before, form at Arlington tends to hold relatively well at Woodbine — they’re both broader and more galloping, as far as North American turf course go, and OSCAR PERFORMANCE won the Secretariat (G1) last year at Arlington. This space is willing to toss his visit for the Million this year — he pulled up in the lane, but his quick return to training bolsters the idea that it was precautionary.
LORD GLITTERS makes his first North American start for a yard that has proven shrewd and successful with transatlantic shippers. He goes out for trainer David O’Meara — whose first ship across the ocean with Mondialiste resulted in a victory in the 2015 Woodbine Mile. Though it’s a minor concern that O’Meara’s “A” jockey Daniel Tudhope doesn’t ship, it looks as though another top-level horse from the O’Meara yard has an engagement this weekend — Suedois — meaning this can’t really be taken as a major knock on LORD GLITTERS’s chances. Rider Jamie Spencer both has form with this horse and has a Woodbine Mile win with Trade Storm four years ago.
LORD GLITTERS has been consistent through his career — 17 starts, 14 exacta finishes — and has never missed the board going a flat mile. That includes a half-length second in the Queen Anne (G1) at Royal Ascot this year, in his first-ever Group-level try. He has maintained that form in Group company all summer long. It would be nice for LORD GLITTERS to have a bit more pace to chase, so he is hoping that LA SARDANE and OSCAR PERFORMANCE set an honest clip, but his career-long consistency suggests he will be running late no matter what.
The third slot was a tight call between DELTA PRINCE and GOOD SAMARITAN. Both of these horses have victories over the Woodbine course, and there is a chance the return to turf could wake GOOD SAMARITAN back up. But, he may be a bit better going longer than a mile. With stone-cold turf mile form and more tactical speed, this space likes DELTA PRINCE just a bit better. He has never been out of the exacta at a mile, and that record includes all four of his career wins. He showed a liking for the one-turn turf mile over the Woodbine course when he won the King Edward (G2) two starts ago, and in that race he reeled in a lone leader in Shakhimat. That ability to run at an uncontested pace stands to help here, too, without a lot of early gas signed up.
#7 OSCAR PERFORMANCE (7/2)
#6 LORD GLITTERS (4/1)
#3 DELTA PRINCE (5/2)
Longshot: The morning line seems a little low on #5 MR HAVERCAMP (6/1) — even though he’s an in-form local, I’d expect to see him drift up a bit from that because the Woodbine Mile is a jump in class from what he has been facing. but, assuming he does drift up a bit from his morning line, to something more like 10/1, he appeals. (It’s possible — especially since, another shipper, GOOD SAMARITAN, will probably be bet down from his morning line of 10/1.) MR HAVERCAMP has a pair of wins over a mile on the Woodbine grass, showing he takes well to the distance and configuration, and is four-for-four over the course. He gets top local rider Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons; Da Silva has ridden MR HAVERCAMP in all four of his wins over the course, and has been able to take him from well off the pace or sit him closer up. Beating all of the top selections may prove a bridge too far, but particularly as a local horse-for-the-course to include in an exacta or a trifecta? MR HAVERCAMP appeals.
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