Woodbine Mile 2021 Entries: North America's Greatest Turf Race

The Woodbine Mile is coming! North America's greatest turf race in the opinion of this author ... check out this preview below!
The Woodbine Mile is coming! North America's greatest turf race in the opinion of this author ... check out this preview below!
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Race 10: 1 Mile (Turf), Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1), Purse $1 Million, 3+ (Saturday)

What is the greatest turf race outside of a Breeders’ Cup contest? It might be this one, the Woodbine Mile. A perennial Grade 1 affair on the grass for the past 20 years, it typically pits experienced older males (although females can enter!) against one another, in what shapes up to be an inviting contest to wager. Historically, some incredible names have etched their names in this trophy, including most recently, Wise Dan (2x), Trade Storm (GB), Mondialiste (IRE), Tepin, World Approval, Oscar Performance, and last year’s “sweeper,” Starship Jubilee. Of course, a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup (“Win and You’re In”) is up for grabs, and whoever crosses the wire first gains passage to the FanDuel Mile (G1) at Del Mar come November. To say this will be fun … massive understatement.   

Now, let’s find out about this field…


#1 Town Cruise (Jky: D. Fukumoto/Trn: B. Greer):

Brandon Greer both trains and owns this 6-yr-old gelding out of Town Prize, and there is much to like after he stepped up nicely in the prep for this race—King Edward (G2). Sandwiched between Olympic Runner #2 and March to the Arch #3 amounted to a solid effort … however, it was disappointing to watch his healthy lead in that race evaporate before our eyes. Maybe Daisuke just went too fast too early. The fractions were blazing, especially at the ½ marker (:45.3). If he is going to move forward even more, he is going to have to control the speed up front. If not … he will not finish 2nd against this group.

Grade: C+


#2 Olympic Runner (Jky: P. Husbands/Trn: M. Casse):

If you are the type of bettor who loves a runner that comes from the clouds, then this is your pick. Gary Barber and Mark Casse have had a lucrative partnership over the years … to say the least. Out of the versatile sire, Gio Ponti, this 5-yr-old is coming off a splendid victory in the King Edward (G2). Can you believe he was 59/1 last year in the Woodbine Mile? That 4th place finish was not terrible considering he was up against it. After that try, he tested the waters at Gulfstream Park, the Fair Grounds, and Belmont, before returning home for this last form cycle. Rafael Hernandez knows how to handle this late speedster, and he could be a player late in this celebrated race once again. How long … that is the question, when it comes to Hernandez making his move … he cannot wait too long.

Grade: B-


#3 March to the Arch (Jky: P. Husbands/Trn: M. Casse):

A Woodbine turfer through and through, this experienced gelding has 8 wins in 28 starts, with almost $1 Million in earnings to his name. The Florida bred was 2nd in this race last year; however, his 2021 has included a “mixed bag” of efforts. He came off the bench in the Dominion Day Stake (G3) and missed, then dropped down to the Niagara Stakes and won, then was 3rd in the King Edward (G2). There is little doubt that he is capable of winning this Grade 1, but jockey Patrick Husbands is going to have to be savvy when it comes to avoiding traffic troubles. If he can do that, Arch’s son might win the day. Casse has yet another shot at “The Mile.”

Grade: B+


#4 Ride a Comet (Jky: A. Gallardo/Trn: M. Casse):

If you thought HOF conditioner Mark Casse was out of runners for this Grade 1 race, you would be wrong. Here is the last one … With part-owner John Oxley along for the ride, this “Comet” has not won a race since January, but let’s not forget that the son of Candy Ride (ARG) has faced some stiff competition. If you are entered in the Kilroe (G1), Maker’s (G1), Turf Classic (G1), and Wise Dan (G2), then that equates to a tough slate. Even though the 6-yr-old missed in all of them, there were some flashes of brilliance. Even though Tyler Gaffalione does not make the trip to Toronto, his replacement is the able-bodied Antonio Gallardo. He is a dominant force at Tampa, and has major ability as a lawn jockey. This is an opportunity, and I am sure Casse knows this is his best chance to score. Top selection …

Grade: A


#5 Set Piece (GB) (Jky: J. Rosario/Trn: B. Cox):

Trainer Brad Cox has a major turf engine in his stable, and this Juddmonte homebred appears poised to try Grade 1 once more. Last out in the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga, he did not have enough in the end to catch Got Stormy. She was just too fast down the lane. The issue is how to interpret that outcome … was he overmatched class-wise? Or was this just a case where Florent Geroux waited too long for the signal to go? Whatever the case, this son of Dansili is dangerous, and with the switch to Joel Rosario, he could be hanging around late in this race. Cox will have him cranked up, and that is a potent combination as this one continues to test tougher company.

Grade: B


#6 Change of Control (Jky: C. Hernandez/Trn: M. Lovell):

Michelle Lovell is switching this turf sprinter into a miler, and it is going to be interesting to witness how the mare will respond. Taking on the boys in this spot will not be easy, but she has some races under her saddle that speak to talent. The 3 June running in the Intercontinental (G3) with Colby Hernandez aboard is a case in point. That 7F affair showed a late turn-of-foot that could serve her connections well this time around. The bump up in class is the real issue, since most of the contests she has entered were “Non-G” affairs. Here is the chance to help sire Fed Biz expand his turf racing bloodline, and Hernandez has the opportunity once again. Will need some luck, I should think …

Grade: C+


#7 Raging Bull (FR) (Jky: F. Dettori/Trn: C. Brown):

It would not be a Woodbine Mile without the likes of Mr. Chad Brown. North America’s greatest turf race requires its most well-known grass conditioner. Brad Cox is making a run at that moniker, but he still has a piece to go. As for Brown’s entry here, the 6-yr-old out of Dark Angel (IRE) needs little introduction. He is well-schooled, seasoned, and he should be fit. However, there are some question marks that dog him. Namely, his last 2 races were poor as far as I am concerned. At such short prices, most believed he should have won, but the pace (maybe too hot) did not roll in his favor. Maybe the key issue was that he just did not have the power that he needed when it counted. Whatever the case, the best news is that Frankie Dettori is in Canada, and he gets the call for Peter Brant’s senior miler. All involved are specialists, but can they make it happen? We shall see … because this contest will tell us of “The Bull” has lost a step.

Grade: B


#8 Avie’s Flatter (ON) (Jky: L. Contreras/Trn: J. Carroll):

I am always impressed with the training of Josie Carroll, and you know that when you place a wager on one of her runners, they will be well-prepared to do battle. If you are looking for a horse that is sure to be a price on Saturday, then this son of Flatter might be it. The 5-yr-old was on the outside, looking in, at the conclusion of the King Edward (G2) on the turf at Woodbine. Getting hung late is never a positive, but if you are willing to forgive that fault, then Luis Contreras has as good a shot as any to pull off this upset. Though this Carroll runner does not have strong green bloodlines, he has the ability to be towards the front in the end. The class barrier might be the most daunting part of this try … if the team can revert to that Conaught Cup (G2) win, then they could be in business.

Grade: B-


#9 Duke of Hazzard (FR) (Jky: K. Kimura/Trn: P. Cole):

The Cole Barn is sending this former UK runner into a very tough spot. Certainly, some of his European form is intriguing, having run in Group 2 and 3 company at tracks like Newmarket, Salisbury, York, and Goodwood. I wouldn’t say that those performances by this son of the great Lope De Vega were superb. Still, he did run against the likes of Lavender’s Blue, Benbati, Real World, and Lord Glitters. What we know for sure is that Kazushi will be riding this one for the 1st time, and that is going to be a tall order to say the least. I do not envy him against some of these tough turf runners.

Grade: C


#10 Space Traveller (GB) (Jky: D. Tudhope/Trn: B. Walsh):

When it comes to invaders in a race like this one, there is an interesting one coming into this spot from the barn of Brendan Walsh. The former Richard Fahey charge came over to his new barn over the summer, and Walsh promptly put him in the Grade 1 Mr. D Stakes (formerly the Arlington Million). Finishing just off the board in that contest, his conditioner is looking for more this time around. I believe this son of Bated Breath (GB) is out of his league against the likes of these runners. Sure, he could improve, but Walsh does not have a superb record with these 2nd-tier-types that come to the U.S. I would consider looking elsewhere, and I think if this one gets a minor award, it will be considered a major victory.

Grade: C


Join us Saturday for all of our selections! Should be a great set of races from lovely Woodbine!

Woodbine Race 10 18:12 ET

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