TORONTO, ON – Sam-Son Farm’s homebred El Tormenta stormed his way between foes in mid-stretch to make the lead before holding on late to pull off the 44/1 upset in Saturday’s $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1).
The Woodbine Mile is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with El Tormenta receiving an automatic berth in the TVG Mile at Santa Anita Park this November.
Breaking cleanly from the rail under Eurico Da Silva, El Tormenta was content to ride the hedges in mid-pack while Silent Poet, Awesometank, and Admiralty Pier raced three-wide up front. The lead trio posted opening fractions of :22.84, :44.43, and 1:08.33.
At the top of the stretch, El Tormenta was four paths off of the rail and desperately seeking running room behind a wall that now included the 3/2 favorite Got Stormy. Squeezing between Admiralty Pier and the bettors’ choice, El Tormenta raced to Got Stormy’s inside as she crossed over, forcing him back to the rail.
After momentarily racing stride for stride with the filly, El Tormenta began to inch clear late. Da Silva stood victoriously in the saddle as his steed crossed a 1/2-length clear of her in the end. The Gail Cox trainee posted a final time of 1:32.60 for the mile-long event over the good turf course.
“This was my last opportunity to win this race – it was the only one left,” said Da Silva, who won the event for the first time in what he has announced will be he his final season of racing. “And this was my opportunity, and here we are. I was fully focused. It was a little tough with Pink Lloyd (declared a non-starter as the favorite in the Bold Venture Stakes [G3] earlier in the card) when he broke from the gate today, but I kept talking to myself, ‘Just focus on what you need to focus on, and keep faith in your horse. And never give up.’ This horse ran so beautifully.”
Got Stormy, favored thanks to her record-breaking performance last time out in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1) at Saratoga, will have to wait seven weeks for a rematch with El Tormenta. Her Fourstardave victory secured her spot in the TVG Mile for trainer Mark Casse, who was attempting to win this with a female for a second time after Tepin won it in 2016.
“I was proud of her,” said Casse. “I knew this is a tough place to win. There is a huge home field advantage (for local horses like El Tormenta). I was proud of our filly. I’ve lost no respect for her and I feel extremely confident that we’ll be right there in the Breeders’ Cup.”
Lucullan crossed a neck ahead of Raging Bull for third, but a stewards’ inquiry into his stretch run resulted in Lucullan being disqualified and placed fourth behind Raging Bull for impeding that foe’s progress in the stretch. Synchrony was fifth ahead of Emmaus, while behind them came Admiralty Pier, Made You Look, Silent Poet, Awesometank, and American Guru to complete the order of finish.
El Tormenta’s win was his second of the year, having won the local Connaught Cup Stakes (G2) here on June 1. The 4-year-old gelded son of Stormy Atlantic improved his record to 13-4-3-0 with $774,356 earned.
“I was a little worried with the one-hole and being on the rail because if you’ve seen his past three starts, they’ve been troubled,” Cox said. “I just think he was laying closer and really bullied his way through a little bit. He’s a very, very nice horse, and was probably overlooked here. Last year, I thought he was a sprinter. He ran shorter and he ran a different style. This year, every start, we thought he’d probably like to go a little farther.”
El Tormenta returned $91.40 to win, $21.40 to place, and $9.50 to show. Got Stormy brought back $3.90 to place and $2.80 to show, while Raging Bull paid $2.80 to show.