Woodbine hosts a quartet of turf stakes for two-year-olds on Sunday, with the C$400,000 prizes – the Summer S. (G1) and Natalma S. (G1) – serving as Breeders’ Cup Challenge events. International intrigue comes from a pair of British shippers representing Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby.
Summer S. (G1) – Race 9 (5:39 p.m. ET)
Godolphin’s British homebred Albahr brings a three-race winning streak into the Summer, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). The Dubawi gelding captured back-to-back novices at Haydock before a hard-fought decision in the Aug. 20 Stonehenge S. at Salisbury at this one-mile trip. Frankie Dettori reunites with the tactical chestnut.
Impressive Saratoga debut winner Dripping Gold ships north for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The full brother to multiple Grade 3 vixen Aurelia’s Belle, and descendant of blue hen Courtly Dee, picks up Joel Rosario for his first stakes test.
Hall of Famer Mark Casse, a four-time Summer winner, has four of the nine-horse field. Although First Empire is the most accomplished as the winner of the Aug. 21 Soaring Free S., stablemate Grafton Street is eligible to take a leap forward.
Grafton Street’s third-place debut effort came in an off-the-turf maiden in the Belmont Park slop, and turf should bring out the best in this close relative of 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf hero Hit It a Bomb. Indeed, Casse has described Grafton Street as “kind of my version of War of Will this year,” referring to the 2018 Summer runner-up who went on to glory in the 2019 Preakness (G1) and 2020 Maker’s Mark Mile (G1).
Casse also forecasts improvement on the surface switch for Souper Legacy and Luckman, who had their maiden races transferred to Woodbine’s Tapeta. Souper Legacy prevailed in his Aug. 29 unveiling, while Luckman missed by just a neck.
Ready for the Lady, a closing runner-up to Souper Legacy in their mutual debut, warrants a look based on his pedigree and connections. Trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, the Charles Fipke homebred is out of a half-sister to last year’s Natalma champion, Lady Speightspeare.
Soaring Free runner-up Degree of Risk is Godolphin’s American-based hope from the Eoin Harty barn. Rounding out the cast is the Ralph Biamante-trained Heat Merchant, who exits a maiden win in his third try on the local Tapeta.
Natalma S. (G1) – Race 8 (5:06 p.m. ET)
Appleby, who won the 2018 Natalma with La Pelosa, sends Wild Beauty off a similar runner-up effort in the Aug. 7 Sweet Solera (G3) at Newmarket. A homebred daughter of Frankel, Wild Beauty scored at Haydock and Newbury, and finished best-of-the-rest behind the exciting Inspiral in the Star S. at Sandown. As with stablemate Albahr in the Summer, Dettori takes the ride.
Ready Lady strives to emulate her half-sister, the aforementioned Lady Speightspeare, by remaining perfect in the Natalma. Like that Canadian champion, Ready Lady won at first asking going seven furlongs, and now advances to this mile affair for the same Fipke/Attfield tandem. The daughter of More Than Ready is a close relative of their similarly-named runner in the Summer, Ready for the Lady.
Bobby Flay’s homebred Pizza Bianca arrives off a smart first-up victory at Saratoga. The Christophe Clement pupil has a superb pedigree, being by Fastnet Rock and out of the Galileo mare White Hot, who is a full sister to classic-placed Group 3 scorer Dawn Patrol and a half to 2011 Epsom Derby (G1) star Pour Moi.
Casse has another four-strong squad as he bids for an eighth Natalma trophy. Undefeated Diabolic rolled from off the pace in both the My Dear S. on Tapeta and the Catch a Glimpse S. on turf, beating Timothy Hamm’s Royal Engagement and fellow Casse trainee Mrs. Barbara. But as a Dark Angel filly from the family of sprint legend Lochsong, Diabolic faces a distance question. That’s no concern at all for stablemate Cardio Princess, who showed more speed than expected for a daughter of Heart’s Cry and a Sea the Stars mare to wire her five-furlong debut. Baksheesh joined the Casse barn after storming from far back to take the Muskoka S. on Tapeta.
Chad Brown’s recent recruit, Eminent Victor, was acquired following her successful premiere on the Arlington Polytrack. Thrice-raced maiden Guileful, fifth to Diabolic in the My Dear, was most recently caught by Ready Lady on the turf.
Two five-furlong stakes on the undercard could have implications for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2).
The C$125,000 Ontario Racing S. (Race 3, 2:25 p.m. ET) attracted Casse’s intriguing maiden Diamond City on the cutback; Silent Runner, the only entrant with a win over the course; Feelthebeat, who adds Lasix after flopping in the Victoria S. on Tapeta; Presque Isle Downs debut winner San Costantino, now donning blinkers; and first-time starter This Way Out for William Tharrenos.
The companion C$125,000 Woodbine Cares S. for fillies (Race 7, 4:33 p.m. ET) features two looking to rebound from losses in the Bolton Landing S. at Saratoga – Derrynane, a slow-starting fifth for Clement, and Casse’s trailing favorite Fulminate, who gets Lasix. Casse shortens up Mo Touring off a fifth in the Catch a Glimpse. Dufresne comes off a New York-bred maiden score at the Spa, while Sweet Bombolini was a strong second to Natalma entrant Cardio Princess last out, Fifth Anniversary tries turf after a sharp maiden win on the Tapeta, and Forest B hopes a surface switch will help turn the page on her Muskoka disappointment.