This is an interesting renewal of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile that’s attracted talented locals, a pair of fillies and a duo of contenders from ‘down south.’ Strange to think of Saratoga as being ‘down south,’ but when you’re talking Toronto, Canada, that’s the case. Woodbine’s racing product is solid and a fantastic diversion for US-based horseplayers on a regular basis. Yours truly wishes he could play the track more often but just never seems to get around to it—not with Saratoga and Del Mar hogging the summer spotlight. The Spa and the place where turf meets surf are closed, so now is the perfect time to shift wagering attention north. The Woodbine Mile and surrounding stakes races offer horseplayers a fantastic way to spend Saturday afternoon.
Below is one man’s analysis of the 2020 Woodbine Mile.
1- El Tormenta Cox/Da Silva 20-1
This local entrant has a Grade 2 win on his resume over this course at seven furlongs. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s unproven at this level. He’s finished behind Silent Poet--a foe he meets in here--twice in his last two races. Expect him to add some early spice from this inside post position and while exiting shorter races.
2- Lucullan McLaughlin/Saez 8-1
This 5-year-old horse has raced just 3 times in 2018 but is 2-for-2 in 2019. He enters this Grade 1 race off an optional claiming/allowance win and a restricted stakes victory, respectively, at Saratoga. He’s been close in a pair of Grade 3 races and a victory in this race would be a significant step up in class. He’s got the right style--sit just behind whatever early pace materializes--and post position to have a rail-skimming journey. He figures to be around at the end.
3- Silent Poet N. Gonzalez/Boulanger 15-1
This locally based Grade 2 winner Silent Poet is at the top of his game. In 11 lifetime starts this 4-year-old gelding has been first or second 9 times and third once—including a perfect 2-for-2 this year at six and one-half and seven furlongs on turf. That’s authentic consistency. Now, can he deliver a similar knockout blow to a group that includes a few potent invaders? He’s 1-for-1 at the distance, has speed and usually finishes well. All that’s difficult to ignore.
4- Synchrony Stidham/Prat 6-1
This 6-year-old horse has travelled throughout his career and last out shipped to Woodbine to win the Grade 2 King Edward in June. In the last two years, he’s raced at seven different tracks and compiled six wins out of those 13 starts. He’s trained smartly for this at Fair Hills with several solid five-eighths breezes. That he handles the course is a positive. He’s also performed close to the level needed to win this—facing Bricks and Mortar twice at Fair Grounds and Churchill. Despite his win at the distance last out he’s usually entered at longer trips and won the Grade 2 Mervyn Muniz at a mile and one-eighth. That suggests a mile may not be his most-preferred trip and he’s tried Grade 1 company before and been found a bit lacking at the level. However, he’s sharp, in good hands and will have the talented Flavian Pratt aboard. He’s a contender from off the pace.
5- Got Stormy M. Casse/Gaffalione 8/5
One of two 4-year-old fillies in the cast, Got Stormy humbled males in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Saratoga last out. That was the best performance of her 15-race career and she’s riding a two-race win streak that includes a win in the restricted De La Rose against females. Those races were a mere seven days apart. She won the latter mile turf test by four lengths and the former by two and one-half. Those are notable winning margins on grass, a surface which usually produce much closer finishes. The thought here, though, is that those two outstanding back-to-back efforts might be a bit too much for her. Despite the fact that she’s on her game and 1-for-1 at the mile distance over the Woodbine course we expect a negative reaction off her last two big efforts.
6- Awesometank Haggas/Egan 8-1
She’s the other 4-year-old filly signed on and comes off a runner-up effort to Sistercharlie in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington. That race was at a mile and three-sixteenths on turf, so Awesometank ought to be plenty fit. Plus, she was closest to a quick pace in the Bev D, so that effort really should have her sharp. She boasts a couple of Group 3 runner-up efforts in the UK between a mile and a mile and one-eighth. All things considered, off the strength of her recent effort she cannot be dismissed and should be included in exotics.
7- Raging Bull C. Brown/Rosario 3-1
This 4-year-old colt races for Chad Brown, the top US turf trainer. Destined for a huge future—he capped an outstanding 3-year-old season with a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby-- Raging Bull remains winless this year. His latest challenge fell short in the Fourstardave against Woodbine Mile foe Got Stormy. This time there are reasons to think the outcome may be different. Blinkers were added for Raging Bull’s last two starts and they produced solid show and place finishes. He met the unbeatable Bricks and Mortar in two of his last three outings, so you know he’s been facing the best. He has a closing style that ought to work well in here and jockey Joel Rosario fits. He seems to be coming around to his best right now and ought to have enough pace to help his late charge.
8- American Guru M. Doyle/R. Hernandez 30-1
This 5-year-old would be a surprise based on his light racing record. He’s sharp—won an allowance/optional claiming race last out—but this is a huge step upward.
9- Made You Look C. Brown/Contreras 12-1
He’s won only 4-of-14 races and was fifth, beaten four lengths last out against Got Stormy and Raging Bull. Like Chad Brown stablemate Raging Bull, Made You Look doesn’t have early speed. Since transferring from Todd Pletcher’s barn for a 2018 campaign, this 5-year-old horse has raced exclusively at one mile on turf with one win at Belmont in an allowance/optional claiming race.
10- Emmaus C. Murphy/C. Hill 20-1
He’s finished closely behind Synchrony and El Tormenta in his last two starts going one mile and seven furlongs, respectively, on turf at Woodbine. He tried Group 2 and 3 races in the UK without success. He’s a 5-year-old horse that would need some improvement to triumph here. It should be noted that he added Lasix for the first time in his last. Trainer Conor Murphy has had a challenging 2019 with just 2 wins in 49 starts.
11- Admiralty Pier Minshall/Husbands 30-1
Drawn on the far outside, this 4-year-old gelding appears to have his work cut out for him. He’s got enough speed to be close up but figures wide early. That ground loss won’t help his cause. His lone stakes win came on the Woodbine artificial surface in 2017. Victory here would be a gigantic achievement.
Bottom Line: We suggest taking a bit of a stand against favorite #5 Got Stormy. She’s sharp, but more likely to react off two huge Spa races than to repeat either performance. Second choice #7 Raging Bull seems the most likely to fire a big race in here and turn the Spa tables on his female foe. Expect #2 Lucullan to get charmed trip from the inside. He’s got enough ability to be in the final mix. #4 Synchrony clearly has been pointed for this and he’s got the ability to have a say in this. Favored #5 Got Stormy also should be around at the end.
Suggested $2 Trifecta Play ($24)
2, 4, 5
2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Suggested $.50 Trifecta Play ($6)
2, 4, 5
2, 3, 4, 5, 6