Big props to the racing office team at Woodbine, led by racing secretary Stuart Slagle, for Saturday’s awesome 12-race Woodbine Mile (GIT) Day card, which includes four graded stakes and a supporting cast of races that offers something for everybody.
The weather forecast shows a 70 percent chance of rain showers and thunderstorms throughout the day, but it will also be warm with highs reaching the mid-70s.
The main event on the day is clearly the 12th and final, the $1 million Woodbine Mile, which is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GIT) at Santa Anita on Nov. 5. Undoubtedly champion and reigning Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Tepin is the star of the day, as she makes her first start since shipping to Royal Ascot and capturing the Queen Anne Stakes (GIIT) three months ago. She is the reigning Queen of the Turf and while a legit favorite, she also won’t have things handed to her against a field of seven other well-traveled international grass specialists.
Recently the Woodbine Mile has become an important stop on the fall racing calendar for horses with eyes on Racing’s Championship Day. Since it was first contested in 1988 — as the Molson Export Challenge — some amazing horses have emerged victorious, including Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Prized, Canadian Triple Crown winners Izvestia and Peteski, American and Canadian Hall of Famer Dance Smartly, American Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Skip Away and Breeders’ Cup champion Ventura.
Over the past decade, though, some amazing names have visited the Woodbine winner’s circle after winning this race, including this year’s Arlington Million (GIT) winner Mondialiste; the recently deceased turf champion Leroidesanimaux; and two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
This year, Tepin will try to join Dance Smartly and Ventura and become the third female winner of the one-mile staple. The daughter of Bernstein has been nothing short of spectacular in every performance, including shipping halfway around the world to tackle the top milers in what amounted to a torrential rainstorm over a soggy bog on a rare straight course. She is a stalker who drew a perfect post to get into her preferred position just off the pace and while some may be concerned that the predicted precipitation will cause a soft course, not Tepin, as she’s won from the firmest conditions to “European soft” throughout her career.
Regular jockey Julien Leparoux will be back aboard for trainer Mark Casse after returning from a broken wrist, and while the race still needs to be run, it’s hard to imagine the Robert Masterson-owned 5-year-old mare will fail to win.
Mutakayyef has never finished worse than third in 13 career starts, but his preference seems to be finishing second, which he’s done seven times previously and also figures to do so again in here. The 5-year-old son of Arc winner Sea The Stars was a decent third last out in the Juddmonte International (GIT) and has a record of two wins and a second from three starts at the distance. He’s been well-managed by classic-winning trainer William Haggis and Dane O’Neill, who was aboard for the horse’s win in the Summer Mile (GIIT), is back aboard. He will need his best — the entire field will — to beat Tepin, but a solid shot should earn him a larger portion of the purse.
There’s a lot of buzz around the Peter Chapple-Hyam-trained Arod, despite the fact that he hasn’t won in a while and has only won one of seven starts at the distance. He’s definitely kept some tough company, but this event isn’t any softer, especially with the presence of Tepin. He’s well-travelled and owns two unplaced performances in last year’s Cox Plate (GIT) and Melbourne Cup (GIT) Down Under, but he’d need the performance of his life to get his photo taken when all is said and done.
Glenville Gardens is riding a three-race win streak, including the Play the King Stakes (GIIT) in his last start and carries some strong local connections in trainer Sid Attard and jockey Gary Boulanger. He beat Tower of Texas in his last two and with a couple of notable exceptions is a consistent runner. The former claimer has won four of five starts over the Woodbine lawn and is a talented runner, but possibly a cut below the best.
Tower of Texas has been useful in the optional claiming ranks and allowance company and it’s safe to say he’s a good bet to finish better than he did a year ago (seventh), but he seems a bit overmatched.
Juddmonte Farms’ Full Mast has solid connections and was impressive capturing the 2014 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (Grand Criterium) (GIT) at Longchamp but he only started twice last year and while he seems to have a bright future since shipping to North America for 2016, he’s struggled a bit in softer company recently.
Mr. Owen is group 1-placed and has faced some tough competition, but this is an awfully ambitious spot for his North American debut.
Passion for Action is a good non-graded perfomer, but seems to prefer the grassy sprints.
Post time for the 12th-race feature has been set at 6:39 p.m. ET.