Run this year for an $800,000 (Canadian) purse, the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series and carries with it a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Nov. 3 Mile at Churchill Downs.
The Woodbine Mile has served as a springboard to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile recently, including last year with World Approval and with Wise Dan in both 2012 and 2013.
This year’s field of nine consists of three millionaires, two Grade 1 winners (Divisidero and Oscar Performance), and four that have won at Woodbine. The field sports a combined record of 11 wins from 17 starts on Canada’s top racetrack.
Here is a look at the field for the 31st running of the Woodbine Mile. which goes off at 4:48 p.m. ET Saturday:
Good Samaritan [ML 10-1 – Harlan’s Holiday - Mott/Rosario – 14: 4-3-2 - $1,332,500] It was the turf to dirt move by Bill Mott that produced Good Samaritan’s victory in the 2017 Jim Dandy (G2) and launched a long run of eight main track starts against top competition in Grade 1 and 2 stakes. In those dirt races, this millionaire won the New Orleans Handicap (G2) back in March. Now Mott reverses the plan and returns him to the turf where he won twice, including at Woodbine as a 2-year-old. Returns to what could be a preferred surface.
La Sardane [ML 15-1 – Kingsalsa - Drysdale/Bejarano – 12: 5-3-1 - $332,379] This filly takes on the boys and comes into this race as the possible main speed. Back in June, she won the Perfect Sting at Belmont Park on the front end going a mile. Last time on a yielding track at Woodbine in the Play the King, also against her male counterparts, she set the pace and then faded to fifth. Even with a distinct pace advantage, there will remain questions about handling this Grade 1 field. Trainer Neil Drysdale has won this race four times. Possibly the pace setter.
Delta Prince [ML 5-2 – Street Cry - J. Jerkens/Castellano – 9: 4-3-2 - $388,700] This 5-year-old comes to the Woodbine Mile with an off the pace victory at the Toronto track back in June in the King Edward (G2). The win was followed by a neck defeat to Voodoo Song in the Fourstardave (G1) at Saratoga. The Woodbine Mile will mark his third start of the year. He has never finished out of the money in his nine-race career, and Jockey Javier Castellano has been riding in fine form this summer. He's always right there at the finish.
Vanish [ML 20-1 – Algorithms – V. Armata/A. Santos – 17: 6-8-1 - $807,898] This Canadian-bred son of Algorithms is based at Woodbine and was claimed back in July for $40,000 from Mark Casse. He switched to the grass in 2018 and found a home there with two wins and five in the money finishes. After the claim, the new connections sent him into the Play the King (G2), in which he was second behind Woodbine Mile rival Mr Havercamp. Even with his recent turf success he seems to be in very tough spot. Switch to grass in 2018 was needed.
Mr Havercamp [ML 6-1 – Court Vision - Day Phillips/Da Silva – 9: 6-0-0 - $437,210] Mr Havercamp has the home track advantage. He has won 6 of 7 career starts at Woodbine and he sports two wins at the mile distance from three tries. Last race, the Catherine Day Phillips won the Play the King (G2) on a yielding turf. Still, he may be at a class disadvantage against several in this field. Home track advantage for this guy.
Lord Glitters (FR) [ML 4-1 – Whipper – D. O’Meara/J. Spencer – 17: 6-8-1 - $807,898] This French-bred will be making his first start in North America at Woodbine. He has been running at the best tracks across the pond -- York, Goodwood, and Ascot -- and boasts a Group 3 win last out at York. At the mile distance, he as an amazingly consistent record of 8: 3-4-1. His trainer, David O’Meara, won this race in 2015 with Mondialiste for the same owners. An accomplished European miler.
Oscar Performance [ML 7-2 – Kitten’s Joy - Lynch/J. Ortiz – 13: 7-0-1 - $1,977,632] After a getting pulled up and vanned off in the Arlington Million, Oscar Performance is back on the track and training well. That August start in Chicago is a head-scratcher, though I guess can’t be ignored. Trainer Brian Lynch has said that there were no physical issues after the race. At his best, this son of Kitten’s Joy will be one of the top choices at Woodbine. He is a few dollars short of the $2 million mark in earnings and is 2-for-2 going a mile. His versatility to stalk or run on the lead is what makes a good miler. He is one of the top American turfers.
Divisidero [ML 8-1 – Kitten’s Joy - Rubley/J. Toledo – 20: 6-3-4 - $1,304,750] In his latest start as a 6-year-old, Divisidero was third in the Fourstardave two lengths behind Delta Prince. Since changing trainers this year, he does have a win in the Arlington Handicap (G3) in July. He has never won at the mile distance. This son of Kitten’s Joy is one of three millionaires in the race. Maybe he has lost a step this year, so the mile just might be a tough spot for him. This millionaire has not won at a mile.
Stormy Antarctic (GB) [ML 8-1 – Stormy Atlantic – E. Walker/Mosse – 22: 6-6-4 - $565,866] This European runner has been competing strictly in Group level races this year while racing in England, France, and Germany. He is a very successful miler with five wins in 15 starts at that distance including in a Group 2 in Germany in May. Experienced European Miler.
Summary: It would seem likely that the winner of the 2018 Woodbine Mile will come from the trio of Delta Prince, Lord Glitters and Oscar Performance.
Delta Prince was my pick to win the Fourstardave, but I was concerned that he had only one start for the year at that point. He ran very well in that Saratoga race, and it no doubt will help him to be in top form for this big Grade 1. It is also a plus that he began 2018 with a win at Woodbine.
Lord Glitters makes his North American debut with an excellent record as a miler and in Europe the mile is the most competitive and prestigious distance. His trainer knows how to ship from England and win in this big Canadian race.
Oscar Performance entered the Arlington Million as the favorite and the clear cut leader of the American male turf division. Lynch has drawn a line through that visit to Chicago, but it is hard to not have concerns about whether he will come back at full strength.