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2023 Woodbine Mile Preview & FREE Picks | Master Of The Seas Ships For Breeders Cup Prep
Master Of The Seas (Carolyn Simancik/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

2023 Woodbine Mile Preview & FREE Picks | Master Of The Seas Ships For Breeders Cup Prep

Aaron previews the 2023 Woodbine Mile (G1) from Woodbine, then gives his top picks & long shots from this “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Trainer Charlie Appleby aims at winning his 2nd straight in this race with Master Of The Seas, who ships in from Europe after winning a Group 2 stakes at Ascot. Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The press release:

Automatic Breeders’ Cup berths are on the line as compelling editions of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, bet365 Summer Stakes, and Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes headline Saturday’s Turf Champions Day card of racing at Woodbine.

The 27th running of the Mile, worth $1 million and contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course, has attracted an accomplished field of six hopefuls. The Mile and the Natalma will be showcased on a live broadcast airing on TSN from 5-6 p.m. ET. 

Under the terms of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, the Woodbine Mile winner will be entitled to a fees-paid berth for the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, to be run on November 4 at Santa Anita. The winner of the $500,000 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies, will be entitled to a fees-paid berth for the $1 million Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 3, while the winner of the $500,000 bet365 Summer Stakes, for 2-year-olds, receives the same opportunity for the $2 million Juvenile Turf, also on November 3.

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Godolphin homebred Master of The Seas (IRE) will be making his first appearance in North America after prosperous performances in both England and the United Arab Emirates.

The 5-year-old son of Dubawi (IRE)-Firth of Lorne (IRE), who sports a record of 6-2-2 from 13 starts, is a five-time group winner along with a second and third at the G1 level.

“He has natural pace and travels well,” said Appleby. “The E.P. Taylor is a nice conventional track which suits him. It is a fair track with a nice straight that gives you a chance.”

Master of The Seas (IRE) arrives at the Mile off a score in the one-mile Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes on July 15. ​ ​

Appleby selected that race as the bay’s most impressive outing to date.

“Winning the Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot in his last start where he won by four lengths [is his best performance],” he noted.

Godolphin and Appleby will be looking to duplicate their 2021 Woodbine success when they hit the Pattison Canadian International (Walton Street (GB)), bet365 Summer (Albahr (GB)) and Johnnie Walker Natalma (Wild Beauty (GB)) trifecta.

Last year, Godolphin and Appleby sent out five-time group 1 winner, recently retired Modern Games (IRE), to Woodbine Mile glory, which was followed by a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T). Mysterious Night (IRE) added to the day’s success with a win in the bet365 Summer.

“Both Master of The Seas (IRE) and Modern Games are strong travellers and milers with a will to win,” said Appleby.

William Buick, who won last year’s race with the aforementioned Modern Games (IRE), will make the trip to ride on Saturday.

Dual hall of fame conditioner Mark Casse, who won consecutive editions of the Mile, in 2016 with Tepin and one year later with World Approval, has three chances to add a third victory.

Ice Chocolat (BRZ), a 5-year-old son of Goldikovic (IRE)-Amor Chocolat (BRZ), brings a record of 5-5-2 from 18 starts into his latest engagement.

Owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch, the multiple graded stakes-placed dark bay took the Group 3 Grande Prêmio Federação Internacional de Autoridades Hípicas at Brazil’s Hipódromo da Gávea on November 7, 2021, in his final start of the campaign.

The gelding, bred by Haras Niju, made his North American debut with a fifth-place effort in his first start of 2022 and then contested his next seven starts at Woodbine.

He arrives at the Mile off a third-place effort in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) which saw Ice Chocolat (BRZ) carried six- to seven-wide and then steadied before regrouping to close stoutly, missing top spot by 1 ¼ lengths.

“One horse that has really come around is Ice Chocolat,” praised Casse. “His last couple of races have been really good. We’ve figured out that his best distance is a mile and he’s training really well. In fact, (assistant trainer) David Adams has had him forever at Woodbine. Then, he went to Saratoga and then sent him back to Woodbine. David said, ‘Boy, this horse has really gotten good.’ He thinks he’s changed.”

Joel Rosario will be aboard on Saturday.

Ultra-consistent Lucky Score, a 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky-Miss Matzo, is 6-3-4 from 17 starts and has finished in the top three over his past seven starts.

Owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Pantofel Stable, LLC, the bay gelding earned his second graded stakes victory after taking the six-furlong Highlander (G2T) on July 1 at Woodbine. One year earlier, in September, he won the Vigil (G3).

Bred in Ontario by James Everatt, Janeane Everatt (who passed away in July) and Arika Everatt-Meeuse, Lucky Score has raced exclusively at Woodbine.

After a tenth in his debut on September 19, 2020, he broke his maiden next time out, and made it two straight scores in his 3-year-old debut on August 20, 2021.

“Lucky Score, what can I say?” offered Casse. “He shows up every time and gives it his best. He’s been a little unlucky, wide, in the last couple starts. If he could get the perfect storm, it wouldn’t shock me to see him pull off an upset.”

Sahin Civaci, who has partnered Lucky Score in all his starts this year, once again gets the call.

Casse’s third Mile hopeful comes in the form of My Sea Cottage (IRE).

Bred by Mubarak Al Naemi, and owned by Gary Barber, the 5-year-old son of Shalaa (IRE)-Shim Sham (IRE) has compiled a record of 3-1-6 from 16 starts.

The bay gelding is no stranger to Woodbine, having contested three races here, including the 2021 Toronto Cup Stakes (fifth).

His most recent outing was a fourth to Casa Creed in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T).

“We’re bringing him in from New York,” said Casse. “I thought he ran very well in the Fourstardave. I don’t know how much speed is going to be in the Mile, but he’s fast and he’ll be up on the lead.”

My Sea Cottage (IRE) debuted with a sixth-place result at Belmont on July 3, 2020, in what was his only start of the year. He broke his maiden in his fourth start, a 2 ¼-length triumph over one mile on the Gulfstream turf on March 28, 2021.

Dylan Davis will ride.

A five-time winner, along with a second and two thirds, from 17 starts, Shirl’s Speight rhymed off three straight trips to the winner’s circle from January 15 to April 15 last year, capped off by a nose triumph in the Makers Mark Mile (G1T).

Under the tutelage of dual Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield, the 6-year-old son of Speightstown-Perfect Shirl won his debut, a 7-furlong race over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, on July 4, 2020, by eight lengths.

Bred and owned by Charles Fipke, the bay, who was fourth in this May’s Dubai Turf (G1T) Meydan, finished fourth in last year’s Mile and second, at 55-1, to Modern Games (IRE) in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T).

John Velazquez, who has a record five Woodbine Mile victories, including back-to-back (2012-13) triumphs with Wise Dan, will be in the irons.

Owned by Bruno Schickedanz and trained by Norm McKnight, War Bomber (IRE), a 5-year-old son of War Front-Sun Shower (IRE), heads into his second Mile (he was ninth last year) off a stellar winning performance in the King Edward Stakes (G2T) on August 19 at Woodbine.

The gelding, claimed by Schickedanz for $25,000 in August 2021, brings a mark of 7-2-2 from 19 starts into Saturday’s race. Last August, War Bomber sprung an 18-1 upset in the Seagram Cup (G3), run at 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine Tapeta.

“He’s versatile,” said Schickedanz, Canada’s champion owner of 2022, after the King Edward. “To me, I don’t know where he’s better. He’s good on both surfaces.”

Rico Walcott, aboard for the past two outings, gets the call on the Coolmore-bred bay.