TORONTO, ON – Making his first start since pulling up and taking a van ride off the track, Amerman Racing’s homebred Oscar Performance returned in a major way Saturday, wiring the field in the Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine.
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with Oscar Performance receiving an automatic berth in the Mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 3.
Breaking from the gates as the 5/2 second betting choice under Jose Ortiz, Oscar Performance was a step slow but quickly recovered and was rushed up to set the early pace. Holding a slight advantage over Mr Havercamp, Oscar Performace posted fractions of :24.60, :48.78, and 1:11.49. Drifting slightly off the rail as he turned for home, Oscar Performance was met with a fight from Mr Havercamp to his outside, but the Brian Lynch trainee refused to give in and dueled gamely with the challenger down the stretch. Shaking clear of his foe inside the final 1/16, Oscar Performance crossed with a 1 1/2-length advantage in a final time of 1:33.12 for the mile-long event over the firm turf.
“At the 1/4 pole, I saw somebody getting close to me,” Ortiz said. “But when I asked him to go, he really accelerated. He gave me a great turn of foot and he kept going. It’s very special. I’m very emotional right now. He’s my favorite horse. He gave me my first Breeders’ Cup; I’m just happy he’s back.”
After making a failed bid for the lead, Mr Havercamp dropped off late and barely held second, necking out Stormy Antarctic for the place. The 2/1 favorite Delta Prince was unable to take advantage of his close early stalking position and yielded in the stretch to finish fourth by 3/4 of a length ahead of Divisidero. Completing the order of finish came Lord Glitters, Good Samaritan, and Vanish. The field’s lone female entry, La Sardane, was scratched.
Oscar Performance’s win was his second of 2018 following a record-breaking performance in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on June 17. The 4-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy now carries a record of 14-8-0-1 and earnings of $2,345,696.
“I thought Jose rode him beautifully and his last 1/4 (mile) was sensational,” Lynch said. “It’s nice to see him back, and it’s a ‘Win and You’re In,’ and we’ve got six weeks to the Breeders’ Cup. Now we can take a deep breath and do the best we can to have him right on that day.”
As thrilled as he was with the overall result, Lynch was just as happy that his star pupil successfully returned to the track in an event that he had long targeted.
“It is a very prestigious race,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to put your name beside it. Throughout your career, there are signature races you’d like to win, and mine has always been to win the Woodbine Mile. It’s nice to accomplish that.”
Oscar Performance returned $7.70 to win, $4.30 to place, and $3.70 to show. Mr Havercamp brought back $7.70 to place and $5.20 to show, while Stormy Antarctic paid $7.50 to show.