Delta Prince, coming off a near miss in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Fourstardave, will be looking for his first Grade 1 score in Saturday’s $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
The Woodbine Mile, a turf race for three-year-olds and upward, attracted a solid field of nine comprised of two locals, two European invaders, and a quintet based south of the border. Scheduled as the afternoon’s eighth race (approximate post time of 4:48 p.m. ET), the Woodbine Mile will be broadcast on TSN2 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET
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 in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, which will be run at Churchill Downs on November 3.
World Approval pulled off the Woodbine Mile-Breeders’ Cup double last year, joining Wise Dan (2012, 2013) as the only horses to accomplish that feat.
Delta Prince, a five-year-old horse trained by James Jerkens, had been away from the races for almost 10 months when he shipped here for the Grade 2 King Edward on June 30 and was a smart winner over the Woodbine Mile course and distance.
His subsequent start, in the one-mile Fourstardave, come over “good” going which, according to Jerkens, was not ideal for Delta Prince. And yet the horse ran very well, coming just a neck short of running down a loose-on-the lead Voodoo Song.
Javier Castellano has been aboard for the Stronach Stable homebred’s two starts this year and retains the mount aboard Delta Prince, who will begin from post 3 as the 5-2 favourite on oddsmaker Ernie Perri’s morning line.
“I think it’s fine,” said trainer Mike Doyle, who acts as racing manager for Stronach Stable. “It’s good to be outside a couple of horses.”
Oscar Performance is a three-time Grade 1 winner with those successes coming on grass over one mile in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and 1 1/4 miles in the Belmont Derby and Secretariat Stakes for owners Joan and Jerry Amerman and trainer Brian Lynch.
The four-year-old returned from a layoff of more than seven months to capture Belmont’s Grade 3 Poker at one mile on the turf June 17.
But in his next start Oscar Performance was pulled up by his regular rider Jose Ortiz Jr., who felt that the colt had taken a bad step and was vanned off as the favourite in the August 11 Arlington Million.
Oscar Performance has received a clean bill of health following a thorough veterinary examination and has three breezes under his belt with an eye toward this engagement.
The second choice on the morning line at 7-2, Oscar Performance will begin from post 7.
European invader Lord Glitters will be making first start on this side of the pond for trainer David O’Meara, who captured the 2015 Woodbine Mile with Mondialiste.
Lord Glitters, owned by Geoff and Sandra Turnbull, comes with solid credentials including a close second in Ascot’s Group 1 Queen Anne and a third in Goodwood’s Group 1 Sussex with both races run over one mile on the grass.
The five-year-old gelding put the finishing touches on his Woodbine Mile preparations with a sharp score in York’s Group 3 Strensall, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, which Mondialiste won prior to his successful foray.
Jamie Spencer, who took the 2014 Woodbine Mile aboard Trade Storm, gets the call on Lord Glitters, the 4-1 third favourite who will begin from post 6.
Mr Havercamp will be looking to become the first locally-based, Ontario-bred, and Ontario-sired horse to win the Woodbine Mile since Rahy’s Attorney in 2008. His sire, Court Vision, won the Woodbine Mile in 2010 and the Breeders’ Cup Mile the following year.
A homebred four-year-old gelding who races for owner/breeders Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry, Mr Havercamp had won three restricted stakes before becoming a graded stakes winner here last time in the Play the King for trainer Catherine Day Phillips.
Mr Havercamp was the odds-on choice in the Grade 2 Play the King, a seven-furlong turf race, which is the major local stepping-stone to the Woodbine Mile.
Overcoming traffic trouble at the top of the stretch, Mr Havercamp was a going-away winner under regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, who tops the Woodbine standings in winners, earnings, and stakes won at this meeting.
Mr Havercamp will break from the five-hole and is listed at 6-1.
Next on the morning line are Divisidero and Stormy Antarctic, both at 8-1.
Divisidero, the senior member of the field at age six, is coming off a third-place finish in the Fourstardave, ending two lengths behind Delta Prince.
Owned by Tom Keithley’s Gunpowder Farms, Divisidero is the only other Grade 1 winner in the field with successes in back-to-back runnings of the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs beginning in 2016.
Kelly Rubley took over as Divisidero’s trainer this year and Jevian Toledo as his rider.
Stormy Antarctic, based in England with trainer Ed Walker and owned by P. K. Siu, also ships in for his North American bow.
The five-year-old gelding has been in career form this year with in-the-money finishes in his five starts including wins in a Group 3 in France and a Group 2 in Germany.
Gérald Mossé will be making the transatlantic trip for the mount.
Good Samaritan (10-1), a winner over the Woodbine Mile course and distance as a two-year-old in the Grade 2 Summer, went on to finish third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita.
Trained by Bill Mott and owned by the high-octane group of WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, SF Racing and Head of Plains, Good Samaritan had gone on to place in two more graded stakes on the grass before shifting his focus to the main track.
The move has proven productive, as the four-year-old colt made his main-track debut a winning one in last year’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy, just missed in the Grade 1 Clark, and then captured the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds to start this year.
Now, following a pair of sub-par efforts, Good Samaritan is returning to the turf while being reunited with rider Joel Rosario.
La Sardane, the only filly in the Woodbine Mile lineup, will be looking to give trainer Neil Drysdale a record fourth win in the race following his successes with Labeeb (1998), Touch of the Blues (2003) and Becrux (2006).
The four-year-old was a Group 2 winner in France last year and had recorded three victories in a row, including Belmont’s Grade 3 Intercontinental over seven furlongs of turf, before faltering to finish fifth as the second choice in the Play the King over yielding turf.
La Sardane (15-1) was making her first start in eight weeks and has stayed on at Woodbine to prepare for this engagement with rider Rafael Bejarano taking the reins.
Ventura (2009) and Tepin (2016) are the only previous distaff winners of the Woodbine Mile.
Vanish, runner-up in the Play the King at odds of 54.50-1, will be looking to become the first claimed horse to win the Woodbine Mile. Acquired by $40,000 via the claiming route on July 28, Vanish returned four weeks later to eke out second money behind Mr Havercamp.
Ademar Santos, competing at Woodbine this year for the first time, retains the mount for trainer Vito Armata and the Eight Star Racing Stables.
The longshot shot on the board at 20-1, Vanish will begin from post 4.
“Post 4 will be fine,” said Joe Mazarese, one of the four partners in the Eight Star syndicate. You’ve just got to relax him. When the time comes to release the brakes, he’ll run for you.”
The lucrative Saturday, Sept. 15 card also features the Grade 1 $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, the Grade 2 $250,000 Canadian Stakes, Presented by the Japan Racing Association, the Grade 3 $125,000 Bold Venture Stakes and the $100,000 Sweet Briar Too Stakes.
In addition, the Sunday, Sept. 16 card at Woodbine includes two ‘Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In’ races for two-year-olds highlighted by the Grade 1 $250,000 Natalma Stakes for fillies and the Grade 1 $250,000 Summer Stakes, both to be contested at one mile on the turf. The $100,000 Vice Regent Stakes will also be featured on Sunday.
$800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile
1/Good Samaritan/Joel Rosario/Bill Mott
2/La Sardane/Rafael Bejarano/Neil Drysdale
3/Delta Prince/Javier Castellano/James Jerkens
4/Vanish/Ademar Santos/Vito Armata
5/Mr Havercamp/Eurico Rosa da Silva/Catherine Day Phillips
6/Lord Glitters/Jamie Spencer/David O’Meara
7/Oscar Performance/Jose Ortiz/Brian Lynch
8/Divisidero/Jevian Toledo/Kelly Rubley
9/Stormy Antarctic/Gérald Mossé/Ed Walker