Pam and Martin Wygod and W.S. Farish’s Courageous Cat and
Spendthrift Farm’s newest acquisition, defending champion Court Vision,
headline a field of 12 for Sunday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine
The 15th edition of one of the premier grass races
in North America will be televised live across Canada on The Score in a
special two-hour presentation from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm ET, with post time
scheduled for 5:42 pm. The winner receives $600,000. The telecast will also feature the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes, presented by VTech, live at 4:34 pm.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine
Mile is part of the ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge series,
giving the winner a berth into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, November 5 at
Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. However, this
year there’s a major difference, as the Breeders’ Cup will pay all entry
fees and travel costs for the winners of all Challenge races.
Courageous Cat, a Wygod homebred, is trained by Bill Mott and will be ridden by Pat Valenzuela. Mott won the inaugural Woodbine Mile in 1997 with Geri while Valenzuela took the 2006 Mile aboard Becrux.
The five-year-old son of Storm Cat-Tranquility Lake has been lightly campaigned in his four-year career, with just 13 starts. But
he’s won six of them, including both of his outings this year, the
Grade 3 Poker at Belmont Park on June 10 and the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile
on July 2 at Hollywood Park. The career earner of $961,300 will also carry top weight of 124 pounds.
Court Vision, a six-year-old son of Gulch-Weekend Storm, is the
field’s leading money-winner with over $2.6 million, while winning
eight of 29 outings. He’s won four Grade 1 races – 2008
Hollywood Derby, 2009 Shadwell Turf Mile, 2010 Gulfstream Park Turf
Handicap (through disqualification) and last year’s Woodbine Mile, when
he exploded in mid-stretch to defeat The Usual Q.T. by one and
He’ll be making his first start for Spendthrift and trainer
Dale Romans, but Robby Albarado, who was aboard for last year’s Mile
win, remains aboard. Court Vision runs well fresh,
having taken the 2009 Shadwell Turf Mile off a three-month layoff, then
last year’s Woodbine Mile off a similar layoff. It’s the same scenario this year, since he hasn’t raced since June. However, he also hasn’t won in five starts since last year’s Mile triumph.
There are three challengers from Europe who have shipped to
Woodbine for the Mile - Side Glance, Dance And Dance and Forte Dei
British-bred Side Glance, trained by Andrew Balding for owner
Pearl Bloodstock, has won three of his five 2011 outings, including the
Group 3 Totepool Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury, England on August 11. The
four-year-old gelded son of Passing Glance also finished a good third
to the respected Dick Turpin in the Group 2 Summer Mile July 9 at Ascot. Balding,
who trained Phoenix Reach to victory in the 2003 Pattison Canadian
International at Woodbine, has named Jimmy Fortune to ride.
Mohammed Rashid’s Dance And Dance, an Irish-bred five-year-old
gelded son of Royal Applause, has won once in seven starts this year for
trainer Ed Vaughan, but was only a neck behind Side Glance in his last
start. He’ll be ridden by Jamie Spencer.
Forte Dei Marmi, owned by Stella Perdomo, will be saddled by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield. Although
winless in six starts this year in England for trainer Luca Cumani, the
five-year-old British-bred son of Selkirk won four of five outings in
2010. He’ll be ridden by John Velazquez, a two-time Mile winner - aboard Leroidesanimaux in 2005 and Riviera in 2000. Attfield, who has won a record-tying eight Queen’s Plates, seeks his first Woodbine Mile win.
4-D Stables’ Turallure, trained by Charles Lopresti and ridden
by Julien Leparoux, comes into the Mile fresh from the biggest win in
his career, a two and one-quarter length tally over Get Stormy in the
Grade 2, mile and one-eighth Bernard Baruch at Saratoga on August 26. The four-year-old son of 2003 Canadian Horse of the Year Wando has won five of his 14 career starts.
Trainer Christophe Clement, who has enjoyed much success at
Woodbine, including a victory in the 2005 Pattison Canadian
International with Relaxed Gesture, is sending Ghislaine Head’s
French-bred Right One for the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. The
five-year-old gelded son of Anabaa has won three of his four races in
North America this year, including the Grade 3 Jaipur at Belmont Park on
July 16. His only loss came at the hands of Courageous Cat in the Poker, when finishing third.
Right One will be ridden by Garrett Gomez, who has won the Woodbine Mile twice – with Shakespeare in 2007 and Ventura in 2009.
The five local hopefuls are Grand Adventure, Hollinger, Riding the River, Woodbourne and Kara’s Orientation. Sam-Son
Farm’s Grand Adventure, a five-year-old son of Grand Slam, won the
Connaught Cup and King Edward at Woodbine last year but is winless in
eight subsequent starts. Trained by Mark Frostad, the
career earner of $761,780 was eighth to Court Vision in this race last
year and ninth behind Ventura in the 2009 renewal.
Last year’s Sovereign Award winner (Canada’s top male turfer)
will be ridden by Patrick Husbands, who rode Numerous Times to victory
in the 2001 Woodbine Mile. Sam-Son and Frostad have won the Mile twice…with Quiet Resolve in 1999 and Soaring Free in 2004.
Hollinger was Canada’s champion two-year-old of 2009, when he
was undefeated in four starts, winning the rich Cup and Saucer and
Coronation Futurity. Also trained by Roger Attfield for
owners Robert Harvey and Al Wortzman, the four-year-old gelded son of
Black Minnaloushe is winless in six starts since, though. He’ll be ridden by Tyler Pizarro. Harvey was a co-owner of Committee Stable’s Numerous Times, winner of the 2001 Mile.
Riding the River, owned by Dominion Bloodstock, HGHR and
Partner, most recently finished a closing second, just a neck behind
Havelock in the seven furlong Play the King Stakes, August 28 at
Woodbine. Co-owned and trained by Dave Cotey, the four-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry will be handled by Richard Dos Ramos.
Woodbourne, trained by Robert Tiller for The Very Dry Stable, finished third to Court Vision last year as a 52-1 outsider. A $50,000 claim in the summer of 2010, Woodbourne, a seven-year-old gelded son of Danzig, enters
the Mile fresh from a victory in a one mile turf allowance/optional
claimer on August 20, his first win in four starts this year. If he wins
the Mile, he’ll become the oldest horse to do so. Emma-Jayne Wilson rides.
Kara’s Orientation, trained by Steven Chircop for owners Max
Berketa and Pinnacle Racing, comes into the race fresh from a victory in
the mile and one-quarter Sky Classic, August 21 at Woodbine, his first
stakes win and third triumph in five starts this year. Emile Ramsammy rides the four-year-old son of Orientate, who was claimed by his current connections last year for only $20,000.
The stakes record time for the Woodbine Mile is 1:32.04, set by
Ventura in 2009 when she became the first filly/mare to win the race. Quiet
Resolve ($91.10 in 1999) is the longest-priced winner while
Leroidesanimaux is not only the shortest-priced winner ($3.30) but also
established the largest margin of victory, seven and three-quarter
lengths, in 2005.
Only three favourites have won the Mile in its first 14
editions - Soaring Free in 2004, Leroidesanimaux in 2005 and Shakespeare
in 2007. Although no Woodbine Mile winner has won the
Breeders' Cup Mile, two horses which raced in the Woodbine Mile have won
the Breeders’ Cup Mile - 2007 runner-up Kip Deville and Silic (1999),
who had finished fifth. Three other Woodbine Mile winners
- Geri (1997), Touch of the Blues (2003) and Leroidesanimaux (2005) -
all went on to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.