Saturday’s C$100,000 Display S. isn’t a Kentucky Derby (G1) points race, but the 1 1/16-mile test over Woodbine’s Tapeta could yield a contender or two on the trail. Archaggelos, as a half-brother to 2008 Derby and Preakness (G1) romper Big Brown, naturally piques interest, while Thunder Ride is a son of American Pharoah’s sire, Pioneerof the Nile. Both are coming off local victories for connections with much broader resumes.
Archaggelos was so convincing in the course-and-distance Grey S. (G3) that he was mentioned as a possible Breeders’ Cup contender. Trainer Michael Dickinson preferred to give the son of Temple City an easier time, especially since the October 1 Grey came only a week after his maiden score on the Laurel Park turf.
“He was running on a seven-day layoff,” Dickinson told Woodbine publicity. “He had only just broken his maiden seven days previous to that. It wasn’t actually a seven-day layoff because one day was traveling so, theoretically, it was only a six-day layoff. So that was incredible that he had seven days between his races and the long journey. It was an incredible performance by a tough horse. We asked a lot of him and he did it well.”
Indeed, Dickinson has made no secret of his high regard for Archaggelos.
“His biggest quality is he doesn’t have a serious weakness. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. He’s well-bred, he’s good-looking, he’s a superb mover, he’s very genuine and tough. He has everything you want in a racehorse.”
Dickinson, the developer of the synthetic Tapeta surface employed at Woodbine and other tracks and training centers around the world, is based at his Tapeta Farm in Maryland, where Archaggelos has continued to gear up for the Display.
“He’s been doing very well,” the horseman said. “We’ve kept him in training and he’s worked well on the Tapeta and on the turf.”
A homebred racing for Monticule, Archaggelos didn’t meet his reserve as a Keeneland September yearling when bidding maxed out at $200,000. The bay, who was a closing second in his debut on the turf at Delaware Park, rates as the 122-pound highweight with jockey Rafael Hernandez.
Thunder Ride, a $625,000 Keeneland September purchase, is trained by Mark Casse for Cheyenne Stables and John C. Oxley. Unveiled in a November 11 maiden that was transferred from the Woodbine turf to Tapeta, he drove to a convincing win at six furlongs. Thunder Ride is entitled to progress with added ground, and he picks up Patrick Husbands for his stakes debut.
Admiralty Pier has been installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite. The Barbara Minshall pupil has the most stakes experience, having finished a close third in the Summer (G2) and fourth in the off-the-turf Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland. Switching to Tapeta last time while shortening up to seven furlongs, Admiralty Pier was a fast-finishing near-misser to Sable Island. The stretch-out will work to Admiralty Pier’s advantage, being by English Channel. Luis Contreras retains the mount.
Sable Island, a dominating maiden winner two starts back, tries two turns for the first time. The Stormy Atlantic gelding out of a Marju mare ought to handle the trip in principle, with the main question being if he’s capable of beating his higher-profile rivals in this spot.
Pipers Warrior, unplaced in his first two attempts sprinting, rolled in his two-turn bow here for Michael De Paulo. Follow My Lead went last to first in his latest over this track and trip. Both prevailed over the maiden Sent From Heaven, while Marcus was most recently fourth to Sable Island and Admiralty Pier, and $40,000 maiden claiming scorer Hoochiecoochie Sam reverts to Tapeta after a solid second in an entry-level turf allowance.
Also on Saturday, Woodbine hosts the C$125,000 Sir Barton for Ontario-sired runners. Mr Havercamp, whose only loss was a fifth in the Saranac (G3) at Saratoga, looms as the 4-5 favorite after crushing the Bunty Lawless and Vice Regent in his last pair. Defending champion Freitag hasn’t been seen since his victory a year ago, and 2015 Sir Barton hero Kingsport is rounding into form following a layoff for Sid Attard.