Summer & Natalma
Jockey Club Derby
Prince of Wales Stakes
War of Will is the 2-1 morning line favorite for the Woodbine Mile from post 8
One of the biggest races on the Woodbine racing calendar is the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1). Celebrating its 24th renewal in 2020, the Mile is run around one turn of the E.P. Taylor Turf Course for older horses under allowance weights. Past winners such as Tepin, Wise Dan, Leroidesanimaux, Labeeb, Geri, and World Approval make up the race's short but already colorful history. Again the Mile is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" program, with the winner earning an automatic berth into the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) field at Keeneland on November 7.
However, much like for the Queen's Plate last week, there will be no fans in attendance on Saturday, only local jockeys have been named to ride, and the post positions were drawn during an online broadcast hosted by Jason Portuondo. Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson said, "We are living in a very different regime here in Ontario. We were very fortunate just to be characterized as an essential service in the province, the basis being that these horses needed care, they needed exercise. We would have lost complete credibility with the government if (early on) word got out that we were running horse racing operations. So the idea of starting gates, timed workouts, that went well beyond essential care. So we were walking a very fine line and we gained a lot of credibility. Fast forward to today, to this day we are allowed 100 people, or 50 people in our building, and I expect Premier Ford to tighten those restrictions. Thankfully we've been able to run live racing but people have had to make sacrifices. The government appreciates the economic impact our industry has on the economy. Woodbine Entertainment employs directly or indirectly 15,000 people; in the province there are 25,000 people involved in this industry."
Lawson added, "We are working on developing alternative sources of revenue, such as our real estate. We have been able to maintain our wagering and purses. As the world shrinks in horse racing, we are growing by leaps and bounds in different countries. We had large pools in Turkey and Sweden betting on the Queen's Plate, and I was on the phone with [the Hong Kong Jockey Club] to discuss further commingling of our pools, and we have a great relationship with TABCorp in Australia too. We are on very strong ground growing our brand worldwide."
A field of 8 older horses (including the mare Starship Jubilee) made final entry for the 24th Woodbine Mile. The 2-1 favorite on the morning line is War of Will, last year's Preakness (G1) winner. Rafael Hernandez will be in the irons from the outside post for trainer Mark Casse. Casse said, "He's coming off that nice win in the Maker's Mark Mile [at Keeneland] and he's trained as good as I've ever seen him train since that race. We're expecting him to run well. Rafael [Hernandez] is going to ride him. We had got the call for Rafael for the Mile, two or three weeks before March the Arch ran. So, it doesn't have anything to do with him picking one over the other. He had committed to Gary Barber and War of Will before he even rode March the Arch. I don't want anybody to read anything into it – that they think one is better than the other. It has no bearing."
The second choice on the morning line is stablemate 5-2 March to the Arch and drew the 7, drawing the rail for jockey Patrick Husbands and trainer Mark Casse. Casse said, "I was extremely impressed with his last win (King Edward Stakes (G2)). More importantly, he's come back and trained very well. Patrick [Husbands] is going to ride him. We've had tremendous success with Patrick over the years and he's also had great success for Live Oak. It was a perfect match."
Starship Jubilee, Canada's 2019 Horse of the Year, drew post 4 as the 4-1 second choice for jockey Justin Stein. Trainer Kevin Attard said, "You can see that she seems like she enjoys winning. She has that desire and she has that feisty attitude in the morning. I think, especially with fillies, that attitude carries over to the afternoon. When I look at her, she's tiny – definitely not big. She's fierce, she's feisty and she just has this mental approach and attitude, she goes out there and wants to do everything hard and fast. She loves what she does. She's a true competitor – loves to train, loves to run, and enjoys what she does. And we enjoy watching it all." In what will be her 38th career start, the 7-year-old looks to join Ventura (2009) and Tepin (2016) as the only mares to win the Woodbine Mile.
Tiz a Slam winning the Nijinsky Stakes last year.
The undercard feature is the $150,000 Singspiel Stakes (G3) for older horses going 1 1/4 miles on the turf, the major local prep for the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) to be run on October 18, and is scheduled as race 7 at 4:27pm. Last year's winner Tiz a Slam is back but he has gone winless for trainer Roger Attfield since the Nijinsky (G2) last July, coming here off 6th place finishes in the Louisville Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs and the Seagram Cup (G3) at Woodbine. Regular rider Steven Bahen gets the call from post 7 of the 10 horse field. Graham Motion ships in Standard Deviation from the Fair Hill training center. Je too has been winless since last summer, and comes here off a 7th place finish in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth. New jockey Justin Stein will be in the irons out of post 4. Mark Casse sends out possible favorite Skywire off a 2nd place finish in the Seagram Cup (G3) after winning the Eclipse Stakes (G2). Rafael Hernandez gets the call from post 5.
Bookending the stakes action on Saturday are two $135,000 black-type events for juveniles sprinting 5 furlongs on the inner turf, potential preps for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Race 3 at 2:16pm is the Ontario Racing Stakes with a field of 7 two-year-old males, while the 10th race is the Woodbine Cares Stakes with 7 two-year-old fillies. Trainer Wesley Ward, who traditionally has done well with turf juveniles, ships in Amsden for the Ontario Racing and Illegal Smile for the Woodbine Cares. Amsden won his debut last out at Colonial Downs, and picks up jockey Justin Stein, while Illegal Smile is still a maiden, but was 2nd in the Catch a Glimpse Stakes last out at Woodbine. Luis Contreras retains the mount.
The Woodbine Mile will be on Saturday September 19 at Woodbine, with the first race going to post at 1:10pm and the Woodbine Mile going off as race 9 at 5:39pm ET. The full card will be available via simulcast across North America, as well as on HPI-TV in Canada and TVG Network in the USA. In addition, the big race will be shown on TSN3 and TSN5 network in Canada and NBCSN in the U.S. from 5:00-6:00pm Eastern.
Here are the entries with post positions and morning line odds for the Woodbine Mile. Full entries for the day are available from Equibase. Free past performances are available from BRISnet for the Woodbine Mile, just search for "Shirl's Speight". For the Singspiel search for "Tiz a Slam".
|The Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) $1 million|
|1||March to the Arch||Mark Casse||Patrick Husbands||5-2|
|2||Armistice Day||Barbara Minshall||David Moran||20-1|
|3||Shirl's Speight||Roger Attfield||Kazushi Kimura||8-1|
|4||Starship Jubilee||Kevin Attard||Justin Stein||4-1|
|5||Olympic Runner||Mark Casse||Daisuke Fukumoto||15-1|
|6||Admiralty Pier||Barbara Minshall||Steven Bahen||10-1|
|7||Value Proposition||Chad Brown||Luis Contreras||6-1|
|8||War of Will||Mark Casse||Rafael Hernandez||2-1|
Woodbine Mile info online:
It is back to the original porcelain trophy this year
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