The $1 million Grade 1 Woodbine Mile !

USA Highlight

The $1 million grade 1 Woodbine Mile on the turf is this week’s race of the week. This one of the premier turf races in North America each year, and this year will feature a deep field of 11 runners. The Woodbine Mile is also a “win and you’re in” race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile race on November 2nd. Got Stormy has been made the 8/5 morning line favorite coming off of a grade 1 victory at Saratoga in August. There will be plenty of challengers though as Raging Bull, Lucullan, and Awesometank will make this a tough race for Got Stormy.

In the 2018 Woodbine Mile Oscar Performance was able to win by just over a length as the second choice in the betting. Mark Casse who trained the winners in 2016 and 2017 will aim to make it 3 victories in 4 years with Got Stormy in the 2019 edition.

ELMONT, NY – JULY 08: Oscar Performance #4, ridden by Jose Ortiz, wins the Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park on July 8, 2017 in Elmont, New York (Photo by Sue Kawczynski/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)

Race Facts:

Fastest Winning Time: Wise Dan (2013) – 1:31.75

Most Wins By a Horse – Wise Dan – 2012 and 2013

Most Wins By a Jockey – 5 – John Velasquez

William Haggas trainer of Awesometank had this to say – “She ran a terrific race in Chicago,” he said. “She took to the training really well. As soon as she got there, she loved being ponied on the track. She was relaxed and calm. I knew she was going to run well because she’d gone into the race well.”

“It’s a big, galloping track,” he noted. “And that’s what she’s used to.”

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had this to say about Lucullan – “He had some issues behind, a hairline cannon-bone (fracture),” said McLaughlin. “The owner was kind enough to take plenty of time. He came back great, and he was ready to take big step up. We like that mile, at Woodbine. We feel like it’s pretty fair. You get stopped, and in traffic, and coming for home things open up if you’re good enough. It’s a long stretch.”

The Lead:
The Queen’s Plate has more pomp and circumstance, and the Canadian International more history, but Canada’s most important Thoroughbred race from an American perspective easily has become the Woodbine Mile. This race has produced a Breeders’ Cup Mile top-3 finisher in 10 of the last 12 years, including 4 winners during that span. Last year, Divisidero exited the Woodbine Mile with a fourth-place run in the BC Mile to best its alumni … and that was a ‘down’ year. The Saturday card at Woodbine also includes the G1 Northern Dancer and G2 Canadian.

Field Depth:
GOT STORMY and RAGING BULL are the only G1 winners in this field, while RAGING BULL consistently has faced clearly the best competition among this lineup. G2 winners include EL TORMENTA, SILENT POET and SYNCHRONY. The filly AWESOMETANK is G1-placed. The class edge absolutely goes to RAGING BULL.

Pace:
Woodbine is a 1-turn mile with an extremely long stretch run of 1,440 feet. EL TORMENTA, SILENT POET and AMERICAN GURU all offer local early speed that will be tested for class. ADMIRALTY PIER fits that mold as well and should be pressing the pace. MADE YOU LOOK has run much faster early pace figures than his running lines suggest and could be just off the speed, insuring more pace for stablemate RAGING BULL. The classy closers should have every chance to make their mark with a local table-setting.

Our Eyes:
The 1-2 rematch from Saratoga’s G1 Fourstardave takes enter stage when filly GOT STORMY meets RAGING BULL for the second time. Carrying 6 fewer pounds at the Spa, GOT STORMY was razor-sharp from far back to win going away by 2-1/2 lengths. Now under equal weights at 123 pounds, RAGING BULL will try to turn the tables. Interestingly, both will get jockey changes back to former pilots (Tyler Gaffalione replaces Ricardo Santana aboard GOT STORMY, while Joel Rosario replaces Jose Ortiz aboard RAGING BULL). Santana and Ortiz instead will ride Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Prior to the Fourstardave, RAGING BULL has been playing second-fiddle to stablemate Bricks and Mortar, America’s clear-cut top turf horse of 2019. This isn’t a strong rendition of the Woodbine Mile, and suffice to say no one of Bricks and Mortar’s ilk are in the lineup this time. GOT STORMY is the horse to beat for RAGING BULL, and the filly does have a local turf mile win in the 2018 G3 Ontario Colleen in tow. GOT STORMY paired stakes wins 7 days apart at Saratoga in the De La Rose and Fourstardave. You wonder if there’s a price to pay for that maxxed summer effort at some point soon? With the weight shift, RAGING BULL may get what he needs in terms of form cycle advantage to flip the result. He’s got the field’s best BRIS late pace figures and that 1,440-foot stretch may be his best friend Saturday.

Beyond the Fourstardave rematch, SYNCHRONY may be the most accomplished of the North American participants. He’s struggled at the G1 level in races like the Shadwell Mile and Turf Classic at Churchill, but his local prep win in the G2 King Edward at least answers the course question. Javier Castellano opts not to return for the Woodbine Mile ride, and stays at Belmont to ride a very nondescript Saturday card. Shed no tears as California turf ace Flavien Prat takes the call. The late BRIS pace figures for SYNCHRONY indicate he should be picking up runners in the lane.

LUCULLAN has won back-to-back races in New York for a Kiaran McLaughlin barn that wasn’t on point at Saratoga. This is a very solid finisher who should save ground on the lone turn, and he’s 2-for-2 with Luis Saez in the saddle. Unlike many in there, the vote of confidence from Saez to ride the Woodbine Mile is a refreshing plus.

January 18, 2016: #8 Synchrony before the running of the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, AR. Justin Manning/ESW/CSM

Most Certain Exotics Contender: RAGING BULL is 10-for-11 in the superfecta lifetime and has the class edge with a good pace set-up in front of him.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender: Sent away at 15-1 in the G1 Beverly D when second to superstar Sistercharlie, don’t expect the public to heavily back AWESOMETANK in her second US appearance either. Trainer William Haggas and jockey John Egan don’t attract attention. AWESOMETANK gets in a just 116 pounds, a 7-pound allowance from the favorites.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $50 exacta part-wheel RAGING BULL with AWESOMETANK and LUCULLAN ($100).

The $1 million Grade 1 Woodbine Mile !
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