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Woodbine Mile Preview: Raging Bull Returns For Another Spar
Raging Bull winning the Maker's Mark Mile (Credit: Keeneland Photo)

Woodbine Mile Preview: Raging Bull Returns For Another Spar

TORONTO, ON – Elevated to third in the 2019 running after a disqualified rival roughed him up in the stretch, Peter Brant’s Raging Bull returns to Canada for another spar in Saturday’s $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1).

The Woodbine Mile is a one-turn turf mile event open to all horses 3 and up that serves as the 10th event on a 12-race card with a local post time of 6:12 PM. The race is also a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, awarding an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar this November.

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Here’s a look at the full field for the Woodbine Mile:

1. Town Cruise 20/1 – The speedy 6-year-old gave trainer/owner/co-breeder Brandon Greer a thrill last time out when he nearly wired the King Edward Stakes (G2) – the local prep for this race – and gamely held onto second. He faces a new rival who could make things harder for him up front, and since he didn’t win last time despite getting things his own way, it’s hard to see him turning the tables here.

“Town is coming in with very good energy and high confidence, something I see increasing with each of his races this year,” Greer said. “It’s quite a privilege having the opportunity to run with some of the best horses in Canada and internationally. I’m sure Town will give it his best shot, which could never be disappointing to us. We’re happy to be here.”

2. Olympic Runner 10/1 – After a career of near-misses at the graded stakes level, he finally scored on the big stage last time out and did so in record-setting fashion when taking the King Edward. The first of three Mark Casse runners got first jump on his rivals that race and has a strong chance to repeat, but the three immediately behind him return here and shouldn’t be as easy to surprise.

“The pace was moderate (in the King Edward), so he was positioned a little closer to the pace,” Casse said. “That horse has been so close to having a breakout performance. I kept waiting and waiting for it, and it finally came in that race. It was an excellent effort.”

3. March to the Arch 8/1 – Casse’s second runner encountered traffic trouble in the stretch but still pulled off a third-place finish as the 7/5 favorite in the King Edward, missing Town Cruise by a head. Patrick Husbands, who piloted him to a 4 1/2-length romp in the 1 1/8-mile Niagara Stakes 2 starts back, retains the mount on last year’s King Edward winner who finished second in this race.

“March to the Arch prefers a little more time between his races, plus we brought him in off a mile and 1/8, so he might not have been as sharp (in the 2021 King Edward),” Casse said. “But he’s a great horse, very consistent, and he’s doing very well ahead of the race.”  

4. Ride a Comet 5/1 – The third Casse representative returned from 26 months away to win 3 straight, including a pair over the local synthetic and the Tropical Turf Stakes (G3) routing a mile on the Gulfstream Park lawn. Though winless in his past 4 starts, 3 of those came against Grade 1 company, and he won both tries over this turf in 2018 including the 1-mile Charlie Barley Stakes.

“He’ll be ready,” Casse said of the horse’s nearly 3-month break since his last race. “He’s a nice horse and he obviously like running at Woodbine.”

5. Set Piece 5/2 – The late-running Brad Cox trainee nearly scored in his Grade 1 debut last time out, rallying from last of eight and finishing second in Saratoga’s Fourstardave Handicap behind a horse-for-course winner. Expect him to take back and make one long sustained run, which makes him ultra-dangerous considering Woodbine’s turf course’s front stretch is the longest in North America.

6. Change of Control 20/1 – She takes on boys for the second time this year, having finished third behind a pair of next-out winners in a 5-furlong Sam Houston Turf Sprint Stakes. The quick, ultra-consistent 5-year-old has hit the board in all 7 starts this year and racked up wins in the 5 1/2-furlong Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland and the 7-furlong Intercontinental Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park.

7. Raging Bull 2/1 – A Grade 1 winner at ages 3, 5, and now 6, his class makes him a tough foe no matter where he runs, and the Chad Brown trainee attracted the services of world-renowned rider Frankie Dettori. Both his Grade 1 triumphs as an older horse came at this distance and he missed by a head in June’s Poker Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park, a race with a similar one-turn mile setup.

8. Avie’s Flatter 15/1 – This multiple graded stakes winner kicked off the year with a dominating local synthetic score, then won the 7-furlong Connaught Cup (G2) on this course by a neck over Olympic Runner before finishing fourth to that rival in the King Edward. He won the 2019 Transylvania Stakes (G3) going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland and should enjoy a clear outside stalking trip from this post.

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9. Duke of Hazzard 15/1 – This French-bred invades North America for the first time and brings a 27-race resume that includes multiple wins going this distance against group stakes rivals. However, the last time he won was 12 starts ago in August 2019 (with 1 second and 3 thirds in that span), and there’s enough North American racing class in this field that he won’t have an easier go of things here.

10. Space Traveller 12/1 – He makes his third start on North American grass and second straight since permanently transferring to the care of Brendan Walsh, who saddled the British-bred to a fourth-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Mr. D. Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park. Won gate to wire by a longshot, this closer had no chance that day. He beat Duke of Hazzard 4 starts back in a 1-mile stakes at York.

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