Four of the Euro invaders for Saturday’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile card arrived at Woodbine Monday evening.
Mondialiste, Arod and Dutch Connection are here for the Woodbine Mile while Capla Temptress has made the trip for Sunday’s Grade 1 Natalma , a one-mile turf race which is a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Mondialiste, a seven-year-old horse who captured the 2015 running of the Woodbine Mile and finished a troubled second in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, is looking to earn another Breeders’ Cup berth for trainer David O’Meara.
“I’m very lucky to travel over again with this fellow,” said traveling head lad Fearghal Davis.
“He’s been a superstar. He’s in great form; we’re very happy with him. He loves these trips.”
Arod ran in last year’s Woodbine Mile, beaten a total of just two lengths in a fifth-place finish. The six-year-old horse is in a different barn this time, however, as he will be making his first start for trainer David Simcock.
“He seems to have traveled over very well,” said traveling head lad Ian Russell. “It’s all systems go.”
Dutch Connection is coming off a sharp score in the Group 3, seven-furlong Supreme Stakes at Goodwood. The five-year-old horse’s five career wins all have come at that distance.
“He wants the faster side of good ground,” said Geoff Snook, traveling head lad for trainer Charlie Hills. “That’s why he’s here.”
Capla Temptress, winner of her first two starts in England before finishing third in the Group 3 Solara Stakes over seven furlongs, was accompanied by traveling head lad Mario Gussago.
“She’s beautiful,” said Gussago. “She travels beautifully; she doesn’t give us any problems.
“Even before the Solara, we were already planning to come to Woodbine for this Group 1.”
Aidan O’Brien’s Woodbine Mile raiders Deauville and Lancaster Bomber are slated to arrive this afternoon.
MONDIALISTE RETURNS TO WOODBINE
Seven-year-old Mondialiste, a multiple Grade 1 winner in North America, arrived in Canada late Monday evening to prepare for his second crack at the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Trained by David O’Meara for Geoff and Sandra Turnbull, Mondialiste rallied from last of nine to win the 2015 edition of the Woodbine Mile by a ½-length over Lea.
The talented bay then used his ‘Breeders’ Cup Win & You’re In’ ticket to finish a solid second to Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Mondialiste returned to North America in 2016 to win the 1 ¼-mile Grade 1 Arlington Million and overcame a troubled trip to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
Is there a preference between eight or 10 furlongs for the hard-trying Mondialiste?
“I don’t think so. So long as he gets a strong early gallop he’s pretty good,” said O’Meara.
Mondialiste arrives to Woodbine in good form. On July 29, he narrowly missed (for the second year in a row) in the Group 2 York Stakes at Goodwood.
“They went a good gallop and he travelled really well and only got beat a nose. It was a very good run,” said O’Meara.
He stayed at York for the Group 3 Strensall, a race he won in 2015 ahead of his Woodbine Mile coup, and finished a frustrated sixth.
“He got caught flat footed at the back of them. There wasn’t any pace in it and it just didn’t suit him. He likes a good gallop to run at,” said O’Meara.
Mondialiste has come out of the Strensall in fine form.
“He’s trained very well and we’re happy with him. He did a piece of work Saturday morning on his own, he always works on his own,” said O’Meara. “He went to Newmarket on Sunday and then transported to Amsterdam and from there he flew to Canada.”
A return to Woodbine should suit Mondialiste as he looks to improve on his impressive North American form.
“He’s got a very good head and he likes the North American style of racing. He likes the bends which we don’t get that much in this country over a mile,” said O’Meara.
DUTCH CONNECTION LOOKS TO ADD TO HILLS’ WOODBINE SUCCESS
Charlie Hills, trainer of top Woodbine Mile contender Dutch Connection, is familiar with success at Woodbine.
“I came over with Redwood (in 2010) when he won the Northern Dancer for my father (Michael Hills),” said Hills. “We have lots of good memories at Woodbine. Redwood came back to run third in the International so we had two good trips over to Canada that year.”
In 2014, Hills returned to Canada as the conditioner of filly Just the Judge and promptly won the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.
“We’ve had good fortune there which we thoroughly enjoyed,” said Hills.
And now Hills is back to Canada with another Grade 1 threat in Dutch Connection, a five-year-old son of Dutch Art-Endless Love with wins at the Group 2 and Group 3 levels and now seeking a top flight score.
“If the conditions are there, fast pace and fast ground, he’s capable of winning a Group 1,” said Hills. “He’s consistent and had success but every time we’ve tried a Group 1 he’s never really had his conditions.”
On Aug. 27 at Goodwood, Dutch Connection chased a good early pace and drew away to an impressive two-length score in the Group 3 Weatherby’s Racing Bank Supreme S.
A five-time winner, all at seven furlongs, Dutch Connection has travelled to Canada in search of firm turf.
“We’d looked at a race at Doncaster this week but the ground is going to be soft there so we decided to take him over to Canada where the forecast looks good,” said Hills. “He’s got to get the mile, but he has decent enough form. He’s on his way over now and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”
A bit of early pace in the Mile would certainly benefit Dutch Connection.
“He travels really well when they’re fast and he can travel into the last two furlongs,” said Hills. “He’s a pretty good horse on his day and has faced some good horses in his career but has yet to win a Group 1.”
Fortunately for Dutch Connection, he’s arrived at a course where Grade 1 success has become a habit for the Hills family.
“I find Woodbine is one of the best turf tracks in the world really and that’s why we were keen to run him there,” said Hills.