The Mark Casse-trained Kaigun has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice in an extremely competitive renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile Sunday at Woodbine.
The 18th edition of one of the premier grass races in North America, which attracted 11 hopefuls, will be televised live across Canada on TSN in HD in a special presentation from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. ET while FOX Sports 1 will provide coverage to the United States from 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m. Post time is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. The winner will receive $600,000 while the runner-up gets $200,000.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ series and will offer the winner an all-expenses paid berth (entry fees and travel costs) into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, November 1 at Santa Anita in Arcadia, California.
Post positions were drawn Thursday at Woodbine with guest drawmaster Terrence Ross, forward with the Toronto Raptors of the National Basketball Association.
Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) also used the occasion to launch ‘Woodbine Cares Week’, which will highlight 15 of WEG’s longtime charitable and community partners in a campaign to promote awareness and support for the various organizations and their causes.
Kaigun (PP5, 5-2), a four-year-old gelded son of Northern Afleet-Cruising Kris, is one of three Canadian (Ontario)-breds in the race, along with His Race to Win and River Seven. Four Canadian-breds have won before, the latest being Rahy’s Attorney in 2008. The others were Quiet Resolve (1999), Numerous Times (2001) and Soaring Free, who was also the post time choice in 2004.
Owned by Gary Barber, Quintessential Racing Florida and Horse’n Around Racing Stable, Kaigun has blossomed since being moved to the turf a year ago. The chestnut was second to Wise Dan in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April, and was close to winning three other Grade 1’s before taking the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at Woodbine on August 10, a prep for the Mile, with a furious closing kick.
“I was worried about cutting him back from a mile and three-eighths to seven-eighths,” explained Casse, about going from the United Nations to the Play the King. “I thought he was very impressive. I think probably he might be a better miler but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. He can do anything. I don’t know if he’s any better now than he was in the spring but his last race was powerful. We gelded him (after winning his turf debut a year ago). That really helped, too.”
To be ridden once again by Patrick Husbands, who won the 2001 Mile aboard Numerous Times, Kaigun, who will carry co-topweight of 121 pounds, along with Grand Arch, has earned over $500,000 on the grass since a failed Queen’s Plate run last year. Kaigun (and John Oxley’s Lockout) will be the first two Mile starters for the six-time Sovereign Award-winning Casse, who teamed with Barber to win the Queen’s Plate for the first time in July with Lexie Lou. Barber, who also has Jack Milton in the Mile, was a co-owner of 2006 Mile winner Becrux.
Husbands, who was only reunited with Kaigun in the Play the King after being aboard for his maiden breaker in May of 2013, said, “I worked him a week before the race, he worked okay, but nothing like he ran in the race. If I had to choose a horse for that race, I would have chosen any other horse but him.
“In the race, he wasn’t going anywhere, he was running like he worked until I turned for home, when I chirped at him, then I was on a different horse. I thought, ‘Wow’! The Mile should be ideal but at the end of the day, you hope it works out in your favour. I’ll let my horse speak (where he’ll be placed during the race).”
Gary Barber’s Jack Milton (PP9), a four-year-old son of War Front-Preserver, has also been knocking on the Grade 1 door and is a four-time winner in 12 starts.
Earlier this year, he won the Grade 3, one mile Poker at Belmont Park, registering a career best 104 Beyer. Most recently, the Kentucky-bred finished a close third to Seek Again and Mile rival Grand Arch in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga on August 9.
The 7-2 second choice is trained by North America’s all-time leading money-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who leads all North America jockeys in purse earnings this year. Both are seeking their first Mile win.
Jim and Susan Hill’s Grand Arch (PP11), trained by Brian Lynch, comes into the Mile off an excellent second place finish to Seek Again in the Fourstardave, beaten a neck. In his previous outing, the five-year-old gelded son of Arch won the Grade 2 King Edward at Woodbine.
Both efforts generated career best 100 Beyer speed figures and aboard once again will be jockey David Moran. The 4-1 third choice, who has earned over $450,000 and has never been worse than third in 15 starts, is one of three entered by Lynch, the others being longshots Dorsett and Silver Freak.
“He is just the absolute model of consistency,” raved Lynch. “That (Fourstardave) was a tough one to lose. He gave everything he had and fought right to the wire. That’s what you love to see in a horse, one that won’t give up at any point. And he was just superb in the King Edward, too. The bigger the race, the bigger the effort you get from him.”
Qatar Racing’s Trade Storm (PP2), trained by David Simcock, arrives from England once again after finishing third to Wise Dan in last year’s renewal when Gary Stevens rode him for the first time. Although winless in six starts this year, the six-year-old has finished second on three occasions while facing some of the world’s best in England and Dubai. The field’s leading money winner, with almost $900,000, is the 6-1 fourth choice and will be ridden by his usual pilot, Jamie Spencer.
John Oxley’s Lockout (PP7), to be ridden by Gary Boulanger, is listed at 10-1. The five-year-old son of Limehouse most recently finished second to stablemate Kaigun in the Play the King. He’s a four-time winner in 19 career outings for trainer Mark Casse.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s homebred Bobby’s Kitten (PP8), trained by Chad Brown, is the likely pacesetter. No three-year-old has won the Mile before. Earlier this year, the son of Kitten’s Joy-Celestial Woods won the $500,000 Penn Mile while last year was the beaten favourite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf when third. The 15-1 shot, who has earned over $650,000, will be ridden by Joel Rosario for only the second time. Rosario was aboard for the colt’s debut a year ago July at Saratoga when third.
Terry Hamilton’s Dorsett (PP6), another Brian Lynch trainee, is a three-time winner in 14 starts and most recently was a close fourth to Seek Again in the Fourstardave. The son of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller is also pegged at 15-1 and will be ridden by two-time Sovereign Award winner Luis Contreras.
Sam-Son Farm’s homebred His Race to Win (PP10), a four-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic, most recently won the Grade 3 Seagram over Woodbine’s Polytrack and is a one-time winner in six tries on the lawn. Trained by Malcolm Pierce and to be ridden by Eurico Rosa da Silva, the 15-1 morning line hopeful will try to give Sam-Son a third Mile win, after victories by Quiet Resolve in 1999 and Soaring Free in 2004.
Tucci Stables’ River Seven (PP1), a career earner of over $680,000, is a four-time stakes winner for trainer Nick Gonzalez, but is winless in five outings this year. The Ontario-bred four-year-old gelded son of Johannesburg, listed at 20-1, will be handled by Jesse Campbell.
Raroma Stable’s Silver Freak (PP4), another Lynch entrant to be ridden by John Velazquez, makes his stakes debut in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. The 20-1, lightly-raced five-year-old son of Badge of Silver has not missed a cheque in eight career starts, including three wins, the latest of which came in an optional claimer at Saratoga on August 6. Velazquez is a record four-time winner of the Mile (Riviera, 2000; Leroidesanimaux, 2005; Wise Dan in 2012 and 2013).
Rounding out the field is 30-1 Ancil (PP3), trained by Joan Scott and to be ridden by Justin Stein. The five-year-old gelded son of City Zip, a five-time winner in 22 outings, has spent the better part of his career sprinting for owners Scott Farmer and Kathy Thompson and set a track record winning the Turf Dash at Tampa Bay in March.
Not in the field this year is two-time U.S. Horse of the Year and two-time consecutive Ricoh Woodbine Mile winner Wise Dan, who last year set a course record of 1:31.75. The seven-year-old recently made a successful return to the races at Saratoga, after recovering from colic surgery, winning the Bernard Baruch.
The stakes record time for the Woodbine Mile is now 1:31.75, set by Wise Dan last year, eclipsing the former mark of 1:32.04 by Ventura in 2009 when she became the first and only filly or mare to win the race. Quiet Resolve ($91.10 in 1999) is the longest-priced winner while Wise Dan is the shortest-priced winner ($2.50 in 2013). Leroidesanimaux established the largest margin of victory, seven and three-quarter lengths, in 2005.
Five favorites have won the Mile in its first 17 editions - Soaring Free in 2004, Leroidesanimaux in 2005, Shakespeare in 2007 and Wise Dan the last two years.
Four horses which raced in the Woodbine Mile have won the Breeders’ Cup Mile. However, Wise Dan is the only one to win both Grade 1 races in the same year - and he did it twice - in 2012 and 2013. The others are 2007 Woodbine Mile runner-up Kip Deville and 1999 fifth place finisher Silic, who both went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile the same year. Court Vision, who won the 2010 Woodbine Mile, captured the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Four other Woodbine Mile winners - Geri (1997), Touch of the Blues (2003), Leroidesanimaux (2005) and Turallure (2011) went on to finish second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile the same year.
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile caps an incredible weekend of Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In stakes. Earlier on Sunday, at 5:12 p.m., the Grade 2 $300,000 turf Canadian Stakes has attracted a select group of 10 fillies and mares for the mile and one-eighth contest, headed by Sovereign Award winner Solid Appeal and three-year-old Lexie Lou, winner of the Woodbine Oaks, Queen’s Plate and Wonder Where, as she takes on elders for the first time.
The $300,000 Grade 1 Northern Dancer, at one and one-half miles on the turf for three-year-olds and upward at 3:32 p.m., while not a Breeders’ Cup qualifier, drew nine hopefuls, including the defending champion, the Roger Attfield-trained Forte Dei Marmi, The Pizza Man, winner of the American St. Leger at Arlington Park in August and up-and-comer Karibu Gardens, winner of the recent Sky Classic.
Post time for the first of 11 races on Sunday’s card is set for 1:00 pm.
An end-of-summer party begins at 12 noon. A special party zone will be set-up at the east-end of the grandstand with bands, food trucks and activities. In support of Woodbine Cares Week and Woodbine’s university/college outreach initiative, there will also be 11 $1,000 bursaries drawn, one at the conclusion of each race.
For more information on Woodbine Cares Week, visit WEGCares.ca? and join the conversation on Twitter at #WEGCares
Meanwhile, Saturday’s card at Woodbine includes two Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In races for two-year-olds - the $200,000 Natalma Stakes for fillies and the $200,000 Summer Stakes, both to be contested at one mile on the grass.
Source: Woodbine Communications