A field of 11 will attack the Woodbine turf course late Sunday afternoon in the $1 million Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, one of the highlights of the Canadian track’s racing schedule.
Earlier in the week, Woodbine media executive Keith McCalmont reported that Wise Dan, scheduled to run in his third Mile, was diagnosed with a tear on the outside of his tendon and was retired.
The two-time U.S. Horse of the Year was pointed at this race for his comeback race of 2015. He won the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Mile, the latter in 1.31.75, a course record.
The Mile still came out fairly strong as Lea (5-2) and Obviously (3-1) wll head a talented field to post at 5:45 p.m. ET on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. For the eighth consecutive year, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ series and offers the winner an all-expenses paid berth (entry fees and travel costs) into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, October 31 at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Let’s take a look at the field (post position, trainer, jockey and morning line odds in parenthesis):
1 – Obviously (D’Amato, Talamo, 3-1) A two-time Grade 1 winner based out of California makes his inaugural trek to the Great White North and the famous turf course. He’s making his first start of the year and is hoping to grab the berth to the BC Mile, a race he’s finished fifth in twice. One thing is for sure – he’ll be on the lead early. Caught late, exotics play underneath.
2 – Grand Arch (Lynch, Saez, 6-1) Comes out of an impressive win in the Fourstardave at the Spa over Ironicus, who flattered him with a win in the Bernard Baruch this past weekend in Saratoga. The 6-year-old gelding by Arch is no stranger to the E.P. Taylor course, winning three of eight career races over the weeds. This field is a little salty, but he’s coming off of an impressive performance against a decent field.
3 – Platinum Glory (DePaulo, Campbell, 30-1) Long shot Ontario-bred finished second in the Grade 2 King Edward to Tower of Texas. The 4-year-old son of Dunkirk appears to be overmatched in this group.
4 – Za Approval (Casse, Moran, 20-1) The 7-year-old son of Ghostzapper has not won in over a year, and that was a non-graded stake to boot. The Casse-trained gelding has some back class in finishing second to Wise Dan in both the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile and Woodbine Mile. Passing.
5 – Turncoat (Silvera, Moreno, 30-1) Not quite sure how he fits with this group and speed figures and class don’t add up to being a factor against this veteran group. It will be the first stakes test of the 5-year-old’s career.
6 – Tower of Texas (Attfield, da Silva, 12-1) Hometown hero that we saw in last year’s Queen’s Plate. Has the Grade 2 King Edward under his belt and was nosed out of the Grade 2 Play the King last month by the horse in the outside post going 7 furlongs. Could catch a minor piece.
7 - Mondialiste (O’Meara, Lynch, 9-2) Euro invader looking to export the winning $600K purse back across the pond. The Irish-bred 5-year-old son of champion Galileo has won his last two, including the Strensall Stakes at York, a race which Trade Storm used as a stepping stone to his Woodbine Mile win last year. Win threat.
8 – Mr. Owen (Rohaut, Rispoli, 8-1) Another Euro invader that is actually a PA-bred owned by Qatar Racing who were the winners of last year’s Mile. The lightly raced 3-year-old is still looking to break his maiden after three career races in France.
9 – Kaigun (Casse, Husbands, 20-1) Another former Plate horse with familiar connections to the Woodbine circuit. He has yet to return to his 2014 form where he challenged Wise Dan in several races and had some success winning two graded stakes. His best days may be behind him.
10 – Lea (Mott, Rosario, 5-2) The 6-year-old son of First Samurai gathers the favorite role even though he hasn’t raced on turf since August 2013. Had a solid third-place finish in the Dubai World Cup in March and came back to finish second in the Stephen Foster. He faltered in the Whitney finishing sixth at the Spa at 4-1 odds. Mott won the inaugural Woodbine Mile in 1997 and will be looking for his second career Mile victory. Interesting.
11 – Reporting Star (Parente, Contreras, 15-1) Surprise winner at large odds in the Play the King, has had a decent 2015 year, looks to continue to improve as his year has gone on. Exotics play.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – Mondialiste; 2 – Lea; 3 – Grand Arch; 4 – Obviously
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.