Woodbine’s leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva will be looking to capture his first Ricoh Woodbine Mile when he pilots Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry’s Mr Havercamp in the $800,000 ‘Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In’ event slated for Saturday, September 15.
A five-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s Outstanding Jockey, da Silva has enjoyed previous success in Woodbine’s marquee races including two Queen’s Plate scores (Big Red Mike, Eye of the Leopard) and a visually stunning 42-1 upset in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International with Bullards Alley.
In 2016, da Silva piloted fan favourite Tower of Texas, at odds of 23-1, to a strong second in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, just a half-length back of Tepin. Mr Havercamp will be much shorter odds a week Saturday and da Silva is looking ahead with confidence.
“I did finish second in this race before and I’m looking forward to it. I’m preparing, mentally and physically, and I’m looking forward to the race. I think I have a real good shot. Our chance is real,” said da Silva.
Mr Havercamp arrives at the Mile from a first graded score having captured the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes on August 25 at Woodbine. Trained by Catherine Day Phillips, the Court Vision chestnut is perfect in four attempts over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“He’s getting very mature and it’s very easy to ride him. The last time I raced him, he was very relaxed and anything you want he does for you. He’s very smart and so easy to ride,” said da Silva, who waited patiently for racing room down the lane. “I knew when I got an opening for him he would explode. I had so much horse underneath me.”
The veteran rider will look to make use of his ‘home turf’ advantage in a race that will feature some of the continents top riders.
“This turf course has a long, long stretch and you need to wait as much as you can. You wait with the horse because you’re going to have time to get there if you have the horse,” said da Silva.
Da Silva entered Friday’s card with 125 wins, 16 victories clear of Rafael Hernandez, as he looks to defend his title of leading rider.
“Right now, I’m just working, working, working and trying to focus every day until December 16,” said da Silva, in reference to closing day of Woodbine’s 133-day meet. “There’s nothing to celebrate, we didn’t win anything yet. The celebration will come on December 16, I hope.”
GOOD SAMARITAN RETURNS TO TURF IN SEARCH OF GRADE 1 SCORE
Bill Mott has been a going concern in several previous Woodbine Miles, sending out Geri to win the inaugural edition in 1997; Courageous Cat (2011) and Lea (2015) to finish second; and Long On Value to end a troubled third last year.
On Saturday, Mott will be looking to make his presence felt with Good Samaritan, who will be hoping to resurrect his turf career in the prestigious event.
As a two-year-old, the Kentucky-bred punched his ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with a victory in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes over the Woodbine Mile course and distance.
The Harlan’s Holiday colt then finished third as the lukewarm choice in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita and ran three more solid races in turf stakes before a career change led him to dirt surfaces.
The move paid immediate dividends as Good Samaritan won Saratoga’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy in his first run over a main track.
“We were trying to win a Grade 1 with him,” said Mott. “We didn’t get that done but he won a couple of graded stakes and was second in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill last fall.”
Now, after finishing a well-beaten fifth in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Whitney over a very sloppy surface, Good Samaritan will be returning to his turf roots.
“Pretty much his last race we made the choice to switch him back to the turf and see how we get along. The big, sweeping turn there—I think that’ll suit him.”
Joel Rosario, aboard for all but Good Samaritan’s last two starts, will return following a two-race hiatus. “I guess the agent knows when to ride him,” said Mott.
Rosario’s five previous Mile attempts include a second aboard Lea; thirds with Long On Value and Bobby’s Kitten (2014); and fourths with Full Mast (trained by Mott, 2016) and Crowded House (2010).
VANISH ON THE WORK TAB
Vanish tuned up for the Woodbine Mile on the Tapeta surface on Friday morning, breezing four furlongs in :49.40 under jockey Ademar Santos.
A $40,000 claim by Vito Armata for Four Stars Racing Stable on July 28, Vanish rewarded his new interests with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Play the King over seven furlongs of yielding turf here on August 25.
“He worked really well,” said Armata. “I was pleased. He worked really well, and scoped clean.”
EARLY LOOK AT THE GRADE 1 RICOH WOODBINE MILE (8)
Horse / Owner / Trainer / Jockey
Delta Prince / Stronach Stables / James Jerkens / Javier Castellano
Divisidero / Gunpowder Farms LLC / Kelly Rubley / Jevian Toledo
Good Samaritan / WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International, SF Racing LLC, Head of Plains Partners LLC / Bill Mott / Joel Rosario
La Sardane / Team Valor International / Neil Drysdale / Rafael Bejerano
Lord Glitters / Geoff & Sandra Turnbull / David O’Meara / Jamie Spencer
Mr Havercamp / Sean & Dorothy Fitzhenry / Catherine Day Phillips / Eurico da Silva
Stormy Antarctic / Mr. P K Siu / E.C.D Walker / TBD
Vanish / Eight Star Racing Stables Inc. / Vito Armata / Ademar Santos