March 3, 2024

Beefy Euro contingent, World Approval seek BC berth in Woodbine Mile

Mondialiste (left) and Deauville (center) are among the European invaders in the Woodbine Mile (Four Footed Fotos)

Europe has sent several of its big guns for Saturday’s C$800,000 Woodbine Mile (G1), a Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re” In Challenge Race for the Mile (G1) won in recent years by dual Horse of the Year Wise Dan (twice) and Tepin.

Morning line favorite Deauville has generally been running longer races, but seeks to make amends for a narrow loss as the favorite in last month’s Arlington Million (G1). Winner of the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Derby (G1) last season, the Aidan O’Brien trainee was a solid third behind Ribchester in the Royal Ascot’s Queen Anne (G1) when last tried at a mile.

Mondialiste, who captured the Woodbine Mile in 2015 and the Arlington Million last year over Deauville, has been unplaced in six of his past seven starts, the exception being a brutally tough loss by a nose in the York (G2) two starts back going 1 5/16 miles.

“He loves this track, the long stretch,” said Fearghal Davis, traveling head lad for trainer David O’Meara. “He’ll be holding up, and then come on and pick up the pieces. He’s in good form; he looks fantastic.”

The three-year-old Lancaster Bomber, only one-for-13 lifetime, nonetheless could be a huge player. Second to Oscar Performance in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) in his only prior North American try, the Aidan O’Brien charge was a solid fourth in the 2000 Guineas (G1) and second between Barney Roy and Thunder Snow in the St James’s Palace (G1) at Royal Ascot earlier this year. Testing ground stifled his bids in the Irish 2000 Guineas (G1) and Sussex (G1), but expected firmer conditions could prove ideal Saturday.

Also invading from across the pond are Group 2 winner Dutch Connection, exiting a win in the seven-furlong Supreme (G3) at Goodwood, and Arod, fifth by two lengths to Tepin in last year’s Woodbine Mile but overmatched in Australia when last seen in April.

World Approval was a flashy winner of the Dixie on Preakness Day (Photos by Z)

Tepin’s trainer, Mark Casse, has a good one in World Approval, who’s relished softer conditions this year winning the Fourstardave H. (G1) and Dixie (G2). In two prior tries in Toronto, he was third beaten a half-length in the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) and eighth in the Canadian International (G1), both last year after setting the early pace.

“It looks like this race has some speed in it,” Casse said. “He just wants to kind of have something to run at. We’ve got a good rider (John Velazquez), and I’m sure he’ll figure it.”

Casse also sends out Conquest Panthera, recent winner of the Play of the King (G2) and Grade 1-placed in the Maker’s 46 Mile earlier this term.

“He has to prove he fits with this type of horse, but the good news is he had a race over the track,” Casse said.

Multiple Grade 2 winner Long On Value stretches out a bit after concentrating on sprints earlier this year, with his best race being a nose loss in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) at Meydan over six furlongs.

Tower of Texas, beaten only a half-length by Tepin in last year’s Mile, has run just three times this year. Winner by a nose in the Connaught Cup (G2) and third by a half-length in the King Edward (G2), he was a troubled fourth last time in the Play the King.

Best Bard, Dragon Bay, and Glenville Gardens complete the field of 12.

Hawkbill figures tough to beat in the C$300,000 Northern Dancer Turf, a 1 1/2-mile prep for next month’s Canadian International.

Winner last season of the Eclipse (G1) at Sandown, the Godolphin standard bearer is a two-time Group winner this season, including the Princess of Wales’s (G2) at Newmarket in July. Last time he finished second in the Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1) to subsequent Prix Foy (G2) victor Dschingis Secret.

Multiple graded stakes winner Messi captured the 2016 Sky Classic (G2) in his only prior trek to Toronto, while Noble Thought seeks his first stakes tally after a strong second-place effort in this year’s Sky Classic on August 20.

The C$250,000 Canadian (G2), an about 1 1/8-mile tune-up for the E.P. Taylor (G1) and other races, features Grade 3 scorer Quidura, who missed by a head to Lady Eli in the Diana (G1) at Saratoga in late July. That stellar effort followed placings in the New York (G2) and Jenny Wiley (G1).

Starship Jubilee, who won the Nassau (G2) and Dance Smartly (G2), the latter in a dead heat, earlier this year, can fare better after running fifth against the boys in the Sky Classic.