Modern Games‘ path to a second Breeders’ Cup appearance will run through Toronto on Saturday when the three-year-old heads the field for the C$1 million Woodbine Mile (G1).
A Breeders’ Cup Challenge event, the Woodbine Mile has served as a stepping stone to success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) by the likes of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan and fellow turf champion World Approval. Other notable winners over the past two decades include Hall of Famer Tepin, champion Leroidesanimaux, Ventura, Court Vision, and Turallure.
Modern Games would be a worthy addition to that roster of winners. The Godolphin homebred capped a fine two-year-old campaign last season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), and his first start at three landed the Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas, G1) at Longchamp.
Although he failed to stay a longer distance against eventual Eclipse (G1) winner Vadeni in the French Derby (G1) and was relatively dull in the seven-furlong Prix Jean Prat (G1), Modern Games was a respectable second in the Sussex (G1) at Goodwood behind undefeated superstar Baaeed last time.
The other European raider in the Woodbine Mile is Finest Sound. Group 1-placed in Dubai last winter, Finest Sound exits a neck defeat in the Celebration Mile (G2) at Goodwood to Jadoomi, who captured last weekend’s Boomerang Mile (G2) at Leopardstown.
Grade 1 veteran Ivar has raced sparingly in recent season, but his relative class is unquestioned. Beaten two lengths or less in the past two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, the Brazilian-bred captured his only start this year in a stakes at Horseshoe Indianapolis in early July.
“When he would race in Argentina, he knows very well how to run a mile with one turn,” trainer Paulo Lobo said.
Questionable placements have blunted the form of Shirl’s Speight since his victory in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland in April, but the return to this distance figures to suit. Team Valor will send out two contenders in the filly Wakanaka, who recently captured the 1 1/16-mile Dance Smartly (G2), and the California-based Homer Screen, both of whom were Group winners overseas.
Get Smokin and 2021 Woodbine Mile winner Town Cruise are the primary speeds, though the latter has been unplaced in three outings sine his 8-1 of last year’s edition. March to the Arch, runner-up two years ago and fourth last year, is winless since July 2021, Mighty Heart and War Bomber had done their best work over Woodbine’s synthetic main track.