Spreadeagling the field in Saturday’s $766,916 Woodbine Mile (G1), odds-on favorite Modern Games did more than merely book a ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The Godolphin homebred made history as the first three-year-old to win the Woodbine prize, since its turf incarnation in 1997, and threw down the gauntlet to his prospective Mile challengers on Nov. 5 at Keeneland.
Modern Games was completing a quickfire Grade 1 triple for trainer Charlie Appleby and a double for jockey William Buick. Earlier at Woodbine, juvenile stablemate Mysterious Night was equally dominant in the “Win and You’re In” Summer (G1). At Aqueduct, Nations Pride streaked to a course record with Frankie Dettori in the Jockey Club Derby (G3).
Like them, Modern Games flaunted his superiority, if the 3-4 favorite didn’t have as straightforward a trip. Buick was on the top of his game to thread a passage in traffic, the hand he was dealt racing well off the pace. But Modern Games had the gears to respond to his rider’s good decision-making.
The speedy Get Smokin led the way through fractions of :23.08 and :45.79. War Bomber attended until putting his head in front at the six-furlong mark in 1:09.39. The cavalry was massing in upper stretch, with defending champion Town Cruise, Mighty Heart, Finest Sound, and the mare Wakanaka all in the mix.
By that point, Buick had maneuvered Modern Games into an outside seam, and he inhaled them. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) star rapidly opened up and extended his margin to 5 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:32.77.
“He was back in the pack a little bit and he had to make a bit of room,” Buick said with understatement. “But you saw he has that speed for a mile, you know, that you need to get yourself out of trouble, so, he picked up really fast and really good. It was a very good performance.”
Ivar, the 2.80-1 second choice, got up to edge Finest Sound for runner-up honors. The 25-1 Finest Sound, who nearly made it an exacta for British shippers, continued his habit of picking up minor awards at a price. Shirl’s Speight concluded the superfecta. Next came Town Cruise, Mighty Heart, Wakanaka, March to the Arch, War Bomber, Get Smokin, and Homer Screen.
Modern Games had not won since his seasonal reappearance in the May 15 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) (G1), but as recounted in the TwinSpires.com international scouting report, he’d been performing at a high level. The Dubawi colt was third from a tough post in the Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) (G1), a close fifth on the sharp cutback in the Prix Jean Prat (G1), and most recently an honorable second to undefeated Baaeed in the July 27 Sussex (G1) at Glorious Goodwood.
The return to North America brought out the best in Modern Games, whose scorecard stands at 11-6-2-1, $1,859,727. His first stakes laurel came in the 2021 Somerville Tattersall (G3) at Newmarket, his stepping stone to Del Mar for the Juvenile Turf. The chestnut will now try to join the exclusive club of horses to win two different Breeders’ Cup races.
Out of the New Approach mare Modern Ideals, Modern Games is a half-brother to two current Group performers, multiple Group 3-placed stakes winner Modern News and Duchess of Cambridge (G2) heroine Mawj.