(Photo by Michael Burns)
With Wise Dan shipping south instead of north, the Breeders’ Cup Mile “Win and You’re In” prep famous for attracting boatloads of shippers has become a wide-open affair. It may or may not be a less exciting affair with no G1 winners like Wise Dan in the field, but with that tidbit comes the promise of a great betting race as hard-knocking “almosts” like Kaigun, Bobby’s Kitten, and Grand Arch have arrived.
$1 million Woodbine Mile (I) - 3-Year-Olds & Up. 1 mile on turf at Woodbine. Post Time: Sunday, September 14 at 6:13pm EST.
[Post Position, Horse - Jockey, Impost, Trainer - Summary, Opinion in italics]
1) River Seven - Jesse Campbell, 117 lbs, Nick Gonzalez - An impressive winner last year where he won several excellent races including ones over Grand Arch and Kaigun, the Johannesburg gelding has been winless in 5 starts this year, showing little after bombing on the dirt in the Donn Handicap (I). He has some back class that is strong, but his form has not been good lately.
2) Trade Storm - Jamie Spencer, 119 lbs, David Simcock - A Euro shipper, the son of Trade Fair [GB] was 3rd in this race last year and has 3 places in 6 starts for this year, mostly in meek company. His last start in a York stake showed him being barley beaten. Not awesomely consistent, could be an exotics horse.
3) Ancil - Justin Stein, 117 lbs, Joan Scott - Hot turf sire City Zip sires this career turf sprinter, who is coming off a layoff following a pulled-up performance at Ascot in June. He is new to Woodbine with one failed attempt at the mile. Both Stein and Scott sport a good ROI, but Ancil will have to be at his best and then some to do well here, especially since he is not the lone speed.
4) Silver Freak - John Velazquez, 117 lbs, Brian Lynch - The Badge of Silver gelding is part of the Lynch trio, and looks to add some serious speed to the race, last out winning with an uncontested lead at Saratoga. Never off the board in 8 lifetime starts, he’ll add some firepower to the pace.
5) Kaigun - Patrick Husbands, 121 lbs, Mark Casse - Likely to be the favorite following his win in the Play King (II) here last out and runner-up performances to Wise Dan and Real Solution this year, the Northern Afleet gelding is 2-for-2 at Woodbine. With Husbands and Casse both at 20% and Kaigun at his best, he is a fitting favorite and one I have liked in the past.
6) Dorsett - Luis Contreras, 117 lbs, Brian Lynch - Packing a pretty nice turf pedigree, the son of Artie Schiller was 4th last out in the Fourstardave (II) at Saratoga and makes his 3rd start for Lynch here. High-percentage Contreras and Lynch go well together, and Dorsett may keep on improving with his 3rd start off a layoff.
7) Lockout - Gary Boulanger, 117 lbs, Mark Casse - The son of Limehouse made a late move to be up for 2nd to Kaigun in the Play King (II) last out. Very consistent lately with close-up finishes, Lockout ought to do well with the ample pace here running for those well-known Oxley colors.
8) Bobby’s Kitten - Joel Rosario, 112 lbs, Chad Brown - Best when left alone on the lead, the star-studded son of Kitten’s Joy gets a big weight lift as he trims back to a desirable distance going a mile. His class has only been inhibited by poor jockey tactics and too much distance. He gets everything his way here, and look out. Deserving horse.
9) Jack Milton - Javier Castellano, 119 lbs, Todd Pletcher - 2-for-4 this year, the son of War Front was 3rd by a length last out in the record-setting Fourstardave (II) and won the Poker (III) earlier in the year at this distance mark. Top turf rider Castellano stays aboard for the trip, but I am only half as optimistic as I could be, given that Jack Milton excels at lower levels of racing and not G1 events.
10) His Race to Win - Eurico Da Silva, 119 lbs, Malcolm Pierce - Featuring a swoon-worthy pedigree (Stormy Atlantic over Gone West), the Seagram Cup (III) winner has been mainly an all-weather threat at Woodbine, racing 6 times on the grass resulting in 1 win. His mettle will be tested here for 32% Malcolm Pierce and high-percentage Da Silva. If he’s good enough, he’ll do well, but it’s all a big question as to whether or not it will translate over.
11) Grand Arch - David Moran, 121 lbs, Brian Lynch - The 5-year-old son of Arch hops off a neck loss to record-setting Seek Again in the Fourstardave (II), looming a big threat here with a G2 win on the Woodbine grass this year in the 1-mile King Edward (II). No off-the-board starts for him at Woodbine or at this distance mark. Big win threat who will stalk the pace.
Top 3 Picks in Order (with preferred odds)
1) Grand Arch (4-1)
2) Kaigun (2-1)
3) Bobby’s Kitten (5-1)
This race looks to be a pace battle with a couple good horses who may get that career-unlocking setup for the big win. I think I would have placed 3rd choice Bobby’s Kitten up further if he was going to get an uncontested lead, but that doesn’t look very likely here as much as he has the class to get it done. Grand Arch is very consistent, and I list him first following the Fourstardave (II) with the belief Seek Again is the biggest threat to Wise Dan’s crown this year. Kaigun will get a great setup and has the potential to win as well. For the 4-spot, Lockout will get a setup and can do well here with the right trip.
Value Pick: I don’t believe Bobby’s Kitten will seriously be 15-1 or anywhere close to that morning line. Grand Arch may be overlooked thanks to him and Kaigun, and is solid at 4-1. I’m not seeing much in the way of major value players that could win or hit the board.