Woodbine Racetrack in Canada will host their premier fall stake this Saturday with the running of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. This one mile turf test is a G1 affair and is a Breeder’s Cup Mile “win and you’re in” event for a purse of $800,000. A field of 12 runners will go to the gate including 5 shippers from across the pond. Among them is 2015 winner Mondialiste, who will be looking to match Wise Dan (2012, 2013) with two Woodbine Mile wins. In recent past, this race has been used as a springboard to Breeder’s Cup success with four Woodbine Milers going on to win the Breeder’s Cup Mile.
The Woodbine turf course has been favoring closers with only 3 wire to wire winners in their last 34 turf miles. There should be very little post position advantage as Woodbine’s 1-mile turf races are run with a long straightaway before the 1-turn allowing horses from all posts the opportunity to gain position and save the necessary ground.
The 2017 Woodbine Mile should set up with several front running horses including 20-1 longshots Dragon Bay and Arod, sprint specialist Long on Value, as well as Aidan O’Brien’s Lancaster Bomber. There should be plenty of speed to ensure at least an honest pace.
Looking to take advantage of this pace will be 5-2 morning line favorite Deauville, who shipped in and last ran as the favorite in the Arlington Million. In the Million, Deauville sat in a perfect spot behind a modest pace, made a move to win and was just not good enough. While a 3rd place finish beaten only ¾’s of a length is commendable, the result was a bit disappointing. It should be noted that 8th place finisher Oscar Nominated, came back to capture the G1 Kentucky Turf Cup last weekend. This week trainer Aidan O’Brien is taking no chances with the pace and has entered Lancaster Bomber (1 for 13 lifetime) to act as a rabbit up front.
The European shippers are usually a mystery, but the rest of this week’s shippers have made the trip before. Mondialiste came over in 2016 where he won the Arlington Million then finished last in the Breeder’s Cup Turf. Arod finished 5th in last year’s Woodbine Mile, and Lancaster Bomber ran a nice 2nd in the 2016 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf. While these horses have had some success, none seems to be coming in at the top of their game.
The horse I landed on is the winner of Saratoga’s G1 Fourstardave Handicap, World Approval. From the rail with a 7-2 morning line and John Velasquez aboard, I expect an easy and ground saving trip, unlike his run at Saratoga where he traveled over 20 feet farther than any of the other in-the-money horses and still prevailed by 2-1/4 lengths with a very nice speed figure. World Approval has posted some of the best recent speed figures and has won 3 of his last 4, including a G1 and G2. Three of the six horses he beat in his last are scheduled to run in Breeder’s Cup races.
The bottom line is that all signs point to World Approval for the win.