The Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes is set for this Saturday. This race that has a history of producing major Breeder’s Cup contenders; World Approval won this last year before going on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Once again, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile serves as a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In Event” for the Mile. This year’s edition has drawn a highly-competitive field of nine horses. The key race could once again be the Grade 1 Fourstardave Stakes at Saratoga (which World Approval won). The 2018 edition gave this field the second-place finisher Delta Prince and the third-place finisher Divisidero. Also drawn in is the classy European shipper Lord Glitters, who will run in North America for the first time.
The winner of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile will receive an automatic position in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Stakes this fall at Churchill Downs. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the person who nominated the foal or racehorse. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based internationally.
The Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes will share the card on Saturday with four other stakes races, including the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes. Woodbine will also play host on Sunday to the Grade 1 Summer Stakes and the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes. The Summer is a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Turf, while the Natalma is a “Win and You’re In” for the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The North American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on Saturday, September 29, and Sunday, September 30, with a monster weekend of racing at both Santa Anita and Belmont Park. In total, there will be eight challenge races contested over the weekend.
The full field from the rail out for the Woodbine Mile includes: Good Samaritan, La Sardane, Delta Prince, Vanish, Mr Havercamp, Lord Glitters, Oscar Performance, Divisidero, and Stormy Antarctic.
#6 Lord Glitters – If he takes to the North American style of racing, then he will be tough to handle in this spot. The European shipper brings a stellar overall record, with six firsts and eight seconds in 17 lifetime starts, while facing some of the best horses in Europe, which suggests that he is a world-class horse. Four races back, he was second in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, which is very familiar to racing fans on this continent. Last time out, he was a Group 3 winner in York, so he is coming into this spot in solid form.
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#3 Delta Prince – After a solid 2017 season, Delta Prince has returned even stronger in 2018. He debuted this year at Woodbine with a stylish win in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, and last time out, was a very close second in the Fourstardave, where he proved that he can handle an off track. There was plenty of give in the ground, but he still was able to put in a solid run. If he can run similarly to how he did in the King Edwards, then he will be tough to beat.
#7 Oscar Performance –It is hard to determine what might happen with him here, but it’s at least positive that he’s back on the track after being pulled up last time out in theGrade 1 Arlington Million. After the race, it was widely speculated that he might be retired, but it looks as though he’s healthy and ready to give it another shot. At his best, he can win this race, and the distance is right his alley. Two races back, he was ultra-impressive in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes and earned a career-high speed figure.
#5 Mr Havercamp – He will be the best hometown hope in the race, but it has been 10 years since a locally-based horse has won the Woodbine Mile. He is coming into the race off of a solid victory last time out in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes and is undefeated at Woodbine this season, with six wins from seven starts here overall. That kind of consistency is hard to ignore. The race last time out was the strongest of his career, so he is coming into this in great form.
#8 Divisidero – This highly-classy horse will run at a mile for the second straight time after finishing third last time in the Fourstarave. Before that, he won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, which was his most impressive race of the season. There is no doubt that this horse has had trouble winning in the past, but he is always around at the end, no matter what kind of race he enters. It’s also important to note that he can run on a variety of tracks, as his connections have taken him to every major turf track in North America.
#9 Stormy Antarctic –Fellow European shipper Lord Glitters will get most of the attention, but don’t forget about Stormy Antarctic. He will also be running in North American for the first time, and though he doesn’t boast near the resume of his counterpart, he does have six wins and six seconds from 22 lifetime starts. He has also hit the board in five straight and is both a Group 2 and a Group 3 winner this year. If he takes to the North American style of racing, then he will fit in well with this group.
#1 Good Samaritan – This is the field’s most intriguing entry. He began his career as a turf horse and shipped to Woodbine to win the Grade 2 Summer Stakes as a 2-year-old. Unfortunately, that was his last win on the turf. After a few failed attempts in tough races, trainer Bill Mott moved him to the dirt, and he was rewarded with a win in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes as a 3-year-old and the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap as a 4-year-old. He returns to Woodbine for another try on the lawn after losing his last three races on the dirt. He could truly go either way.
#4 Vanish – This gelding is quietly enjoying a nice season, with two wins from four starts at Woodbine. After winning back-to-back allowance races, his connections gave the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes a shot last time out and ran well to finish second. The competition will be much tougher here, but he will have a home track advantage over many of his main contenders.
#2 La Sardane – The lone filly in the field will try to upset the boys and follow in the footsteps of the great Tepin, the last filly to win the Woodbine Mile. It can be done, but Tepin was a special horse. After shipping to North America from France, it looked as though La Sardane could be a special horse, too. She ran poorly in her first effort here, but she then rattled off three straight victories, including two stakes wins at Belmont Park. Last time out, she shipped to Woodbine and ran fifth in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes. She must improve off of that effort in order to have a shot here.