Scarborough, Ontario native Andre De Grasse will hold court at Woodbine Racetrack on Wednesday afternoon when he assists with the post-position draw for the $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Andre was born in Scarborough, Ontario on November 10, 1994 and raised in Markham by his mother Beverley, who was a high school sprinter growing up in Trinidad & Tobago before moving to Canada in her twenties.
Once a promising basketball player, Andre’s life changed in the space of 10.9 seconds, the time it took him to run his first 100m at the York Region High School Championships in the spring of 2012. Andre was convinced by a friend to give track a try after his high school, Milliken Mills H.S, was unable to field a basketball team in his senior year. So De Grasse laced up a pair of borrowed spikes, donned some baggy basketball shorts and raced to a second place finish without the benefit of starting blocks. Tony Sharpe, himself an Olympic medalist for Canada at the 1984 Olympics, was in the stands that day and immediately took Andre under his wing. Andre joined Sharpe’s Speed Academy track club and by the following summer had set a new Canadian junior record of 10.25.
Two years competing in the National Junior College Athletic Association for Coffeyville Community College had made Andre a highly-touted recruit, pursued by the top NCAA track & field programs. He opted to attend USC beginning in 2014. By the following spring, De Grasse was a household name after winning the 100m and 200m in a span of 45 minutes at the NCAA Championships with wind-aided times of 9.75 seconds in the 100m and 19.58 seconds in the 200m.
Living up to the hype swirling around him, Andre swept the 100m and 200m events in dramatic come from behind fashion at the 2015 Pan Am Games held in his own backyard in Toronto, Ontario. Capping off his magical 2015 season, Andre represented Canada at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing where he tied for the bronze medal in the 100m. This made him Canada’s first world medalist in the event since 1999. De Grasse ran sub-10 seconds in all three rounds of competition. He was also part of the 4x100m relay team that won bronze.
Competing in his first Olympics, Andre De Grasse ran a new personal best in the 100m final in Rio, to capture a bronze medal behind Justin Gatlin of the USA and Usain Bolt of Jamaica. In the semi-finals of the 200m, Andre lowered his own Canadian record running 19.80 before racing to a silver medal in the final behind Usain Bolt. He went on to win his third medal of the Games, anchoring the men’s 4x100m relay team to a bronze medal in a new national record time of 37.64. In doing so, he became the first Canadian to win medals in each of the sprint events in a single Olympic.
Despite turning professional and signing an eight-figure contract with Puma, Andre had committed to completing studies at USC after the Olympics and he did just that, graduating with a degree in Sociology in the spring of 2017. Off the track and with the benefit of a growing roster of corporate partners, Andre has established the Andre De Grasse Family Foundation, which is committed to empowering youth to realize their own dreams through access to sport, education and mentorship.
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile post-position draw will be held on Wednesday, September 12 at Woodbine Racetrack in the Walking Ring Tent and De Grasse will be on hand to assist with the festivities. The media event will get underway at noon.
Divisidero coming into Ricoh Woodbine Mile “as happy as he can be”
Last time out, multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Divisidero finished third in New York. Next Saturday, the Kelly Rubley trainee will look to make his Canadian debut a winning one in the Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Sent off at 10-1 in the Fourstardave on August 11 at Saratoga, the six-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy took show honours in the Grade 1 feature, finishing two lengths behind runner-up Delta Prince who was a neck back of the winner, Voodoo Song.
One start earlier, the late-charging Gunpowder Farms colour bearer bobbled at the start, but rallied impressively, this time making the trip to the winner’s circle the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap on July 7.
“It was a tremendous effort,” praised Rubley of the Arlington score. “He’s just a fantastic horse.”
Rubley, who took over from conditioner Buff Bradley after the horse’s 2017 campaign, has also saddled Divisidero to a second-place finish in the Monmouth Stakes (G2T) May 26 and a fourth-place showing in the Wise Dan Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs June 16.
“It’s certainly been an experience,” Rubley said of taking over Divisidero, who twice won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1T) at Churchill Downs. “It’s very exciting.”
The Kentucky-bred, who fashions a record of 6-3-4 in 20 starts, will have regular rider Jevian Toledo in the irons for the Mile, a Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ event.
Rubley is looking forward to bringing her charge to Canada for his first test on the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
“We’re excited to come up there,” she said of the lifetime earner of over $1.3 million. “I think he’ll really take to the course. I thought he ran a great race at Arlington and hopefully he can do the same at Woodbine. He’s coming into the Mile as happy as he can be.”
Divisidero, who has one win, one second and a third from four 2018 starts, was bred in Kentucky by Hinkle Farms and is the fourth foal out of the Lemon Drop Kid broodmare Madame Du Lac. He was purchased for $250,000 (U.S.) by Margaux Farm from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2015, where he was consigned by his breeders.
Ricoh Woodbine Mile Contenders On The Work Tab
Mr Havercamp and La Sardane, the 1-5 finishers in the Grade 2 Play the King over seven furlongs of turf here August 25, had their final major tune-ups for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday morning.
Trainer Catherine Day Phillips sent out Mr Havercamp to breeze five furlongs on the Tapeta surface in 1:02 while going in company with last year’s Plate Trial winner Guy Caballero, who finished in 1:02.60.
Breaking off just behind his older rival with regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva in the irons, Mr Havercamp finished strongly to be clearly the best of the pair.
“He had a nice breeze today,” said Day Phillips. “Not a hard breeze, but a nice breeze. I think he’s in good order. He’s ready to go.”
La Sardane, the only filly in the prospective Woodbine Mile lineup, breezed six furlongs in 1:12.40 with the dogs well out on the E.P. Taylor turf course.
Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale jetted in from California for the occasion.
“She worked well this morning, I was very pleased with the work,” said Drysdale, whose three Woodbine Mile wins give him a share for the lead with Charles Lopresti and the late Bobby Frankel.
Drysdale’s successes came with Labeeb (1998), Touch of the Blues (2003) and Becrux (2006).
Vexatious, also conditioned by Drysdale, went six furlongs in 1:14 on the main turf course in a separate move. The four-year-old filly also is here to take on males with her target the Grade 1, $300,000 Northern Dancer, a 1-1/2 mile turf race on the Woodbine Mile undercard.
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