Race of the Week: Woodbine Mile
by Joe Wulffe
Saturday September 15th: Race 8 at Woodbine. The $800,000 Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile run at one mile on the turf for three year olds and upward. (Post Time: 4:48 EDT).
(6) Lord Glitters: Trainer David O’Meara ships over this incredibly talented European miler, a five year old son of Whipper to make his North American debut in this year’s edition of the Woodbine Mile, having previously won this race in 2015 with Mondialiste. Thus far Lord Glitters has managed to find his way into the exacta in 14 of his 17 lifetime starts and furthermore has hit the board in all seven tries at the one mile distance. This year marked the first time in his career that he has contested races against Group-level competition and so far, Lord Glitters has been fairly successful especially when considering that he has been squaring off against the likes of Accidental Agent, Beat the Bank and Lightning Spear who are some of the more accomplished European Group 1 winners. Additionally, the level of competition that he has been facing in Europe at the prestigious meets at Ascot and Goodwood is far superior when compared to the field that he will be facing on Saturday, which bodes quite well for his chances of success.
David O’Meara does not often start runners in North America, yet when he does they tend find themselves in the winner’s circle as over the course of the past three years, 33% of his runners have won graded stakes in North America. Moreover, when giving Lasix for the first time in recent times, both of O’Meara’s runners have won and boast an outstanding $13.50 ROI. Jockey Jamie Spencer will accompany Lord Glitters on this trip, which is excellent news as Spencer was onboard when the gelding narrowly lost both the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes earlier this year at Ascot. In addition, Lord Glitter’s most recent race over the left-handed course at York in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes should further increase his chances of adapting well to the unique configuration of the E.P. Taylor turf course at Woodbine. Finally, it does bear mentioning that while Lord Glitters likely would prefer a bit more pace in this race (only two true early speed type horses are signed on and Lord Glitters prefers to do his best running late when coming from close to the rear of the field) he does possess an excellent turn of foot and a powerful kick and should have no issues getting himself into contention late. Therefore Lord Glitters should be viewed as the one to beat in this race.
(7) Oscar Performance: The barn of trainer Brian Lynch ships this four year old son of Kitten’s Joy across the border looking to rebound after a rather bizarre turn of events in his last out race: the Arlington Million (G1T) back on August 11th at Arlington Park. In that race, jockey Jose Ortiz pulled him up (possibly after Oscar Performance took a few bad steps down the stretch or was affected by the heat) and he never crossed the wire. However, as Oscar Performance was able to board the equine ambulance under his own power, was given a clean bill of health later that evening by the vet, and has since returned to training very well with several recent bullet works at Saratoga, perhaps it is best to simply draw a line through that Million effort and mark it as an anomaly. In two career attempts at one mile, Oscar Performance has won both starts and furthermore boasts the highest Bris Speed Rating (BSR) of a 106 which is best amongst the field for eight panels by a good margin.
Over the past three years, Brian Lynch has done exceptionally well when entering his trainees into graded stakes races as he has won with 21% of his 117 starters. Moreover, Oscar Performance’s preferred rider, Jose Ortiz, will be back in the irons again on Saturday; Ortiz has been winning at an 18% rate (from 591 starts) so far this year when racing on turf. Oscar Performance has proven himself to be a fairly versatile horse over the course of his career as he has shown the ability to be able to stalk the pace when necessary as well as make the lead if the situation calls for it. While there does not appear to be much early speed signed on for this race (in fact the TimeForm Pace Projector has suggested that those horses on or near the lead will be favored), this could work out quite favorably for Oscar Performance. He will likely sit a stalking trip just off the initial fractions being set by the filly La Sardane, before trying to strike for the lead as the field turns for home. Oscar Performance should be able to work out a good trip and certainly has more than enough talent to best this field; yet, that effort in the Arlington Million still is a bit of a head-scratcher and if he is not truly 100% coming into this race then he can be beat and perhaps an on the board finish is the best the connections can hope for.
(3) Delta Prince: Trainer Jimmy Jerkens sends out this five year old son of Street Cry, a half-brother to the brilliant Royal Delta, to contend in this quite competitive edition of the Woodbine Mile. Thus far in his career, Delta Prince has been ultra consistent, having hit the board in all nine lifetime starts. Furthermore, Delta Prince has absolutely relished running at a mile as he has finished in the exacta in all six of his attempts at the distance. In addition, Delta Prince appears to be coming into this race in great form as he not only won the King Edward Stakes (G2T) over a mile on the Woodbine turf on June 30th but also finished second by a neck in the one mile Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) at Saratoga in August whilst posting a career best 100 BSR.
Jimmy Jerkens has been fairly successful over the course of the past three years not only when contesting turf races (18% win rate from 257 starts) but also when entering his runners against graded stakes competition (20% win rate from 91 starts). Moreover, jockey Javier Castellano will once again get the call to ride Delta Prince, as he has been onboard for both starts this year. Castellano has done quite well when riding in turf races this year as he currently is winning with 21% of his mounts (from 427 starts). Over the course of his career, Delta Prince has shown great stalking ability and has displayed an affinity for challenging for the lead as the field makes its way down the stretch. The TimeForm Pace Projector has indicated that it is likely that Delta Prince will be forwardly placed, likely rating just behind the early speed of La Sardane and Oscar Performance before trying to make a move late and battling down the stretch. His effort in that King Edward, in which he reeled in the lone leader who was running an uncontested pace, could come into play on Saturday as outside of the two aforementioned early speed horses, there does not appear to be any other early pace factors entered into this race. The only knock on Delta Prince is that he has yet to encounter a truly slow pace, a scenario that could occur on Saturday; instead, the vast majority of Delta Prince’s efforts have come whilst contesting moderately quick fractions and a more crawling pace could potentially hurt him. Thus while it is entirely possible for Delta Prince to pull off a victory against this field on Saturday, an on the board finish with a minor award is more likely.
Two horses stood out as potential candidates for use underneath in all exotics wagers, yet of the two- (1) Good Samaritan and (9) Stormy Antarctic– the latter appears to offer a bit more value and comes into this race with a better class background. Stormy Antarctic is an accomplished European miler, having finished in the money in ten of his fourteen attempts at the distance. Moreover, he has been competing against some very quality opponents over the course of this year as he finished 2nd behind Benbatl in German Group 1 Grosser Dallmayr-Preis-Bayerisches Zuchtrennen on July 29th and then 3rd behind Beat the Bank in the Celebration Mile Stakes (G2) at Goodwood in August. Stormy Antarctic has displayed a somewhat versatile running style in that he has managed to hit the board when stalking the pace from midpack as well as when closing from far back. Although his trainer, Ed Walker, has yet to win in a limited number of starts in North America, his runners have hit the board in 75% of their starts when receiving Lasix for the first time and in 60% of their starts when competing against graded stakes company. The only concern for Stormy Antarctic is that it appears that he does his best running over ground with some give in it, a condition he is unlikely to encounter on Saturday. Thus while Stormy Antarctic certainly has a class advantage over his North American foes, he appears to be just a notch behind his fellow European invader, Lord Glitters, and warrants use as an underneath play only.