ETOBICOKE, Ontario – A terrific weekend of turf racing is on tap at Woodbine, with four Grade 1 races scheduled over Saturday and Sunday, headlined by Saturday’s Grade 1, $800,000 Woodbine Mile.
As of Monday morning, nine horses were likely to enter the starting gate for the Woodbine Mile, led by multiple Grade 1 winner Divisidero.
Divisidero will ship to Woodbine for the first time following a third-place finish behind Voodoo Song in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 11. The 6-year-old Divisidero was transferred to the barn of trainer Kelly Rubley for the 2018 season, and recorded a win two starts back in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap on July 7.
“We’re excited to come up there,” Rubley said. “I think he’ll really take to the course. I thought he ran a great race at Arlington and hopefully he can do the same at Woodbine. He’s coming into the Mile as happy as he can be.”
Fourstardave Handicap runner-up Delta Prince will also make the trip for the Woodbine Mile. Trained by Jimmy Jerkens and owned Stronach Stables, Delta Prince already owns a win over the Woodbine turf course, having captured the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes in his seasonal debut here on June 30.
A trio of horses eexpected for the Mile exit the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes, contested here over seven furlongs on Aug. 25. Winner Mr Havercamp, unbeaten in four starts over the turf here, will look to continue his local success for trainer Catherine Day Phillips and owner-breeders Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry.
Vanish finished second in the Play the King. He is trained by Vito Armata and owned by Eight Star Racing Stables. La Sardane finished fifth in the Play the King after setting the pace, and the filly will look to give trainer Neil Drysdale his fourth Woodbine Mile victory.
Another horse with familiarity over the Woodbine turf course is Good Samaritan, who won the Grade 2 Summer Stakes here as a 2-year-old in 2016. Good Samaritan, who has made his last eight starts on dirt, will be racing on turf for the first time since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby last July. He is trained by Bill Mott.
A pair of European shippers, Lord Glitters and Stormy Antarctic, also are slated to run in the Woodbine Mile. Lord Glitters was a close second behind Accidental Agent in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Ascot meeting in June, and most recently won the Group 3 Strensall Stakes at York on Aug. 25. Stormy Antarctic, meanwhile, won the Group 3 Prix Edmond Blanc at Saint-Cloud in France in April, and was most recently third in the Group 2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood on Aug. 25.
Rounding out the potential field is Oscar Performance, who was pulled up and vanned off in his most recent start, which came in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 11. He breezed four furlongs on dirt in 48.72 seconds Sunday at Saratoga.
Entries for the Woodbine Mile will be taken on Wednesday, with Canadian Olympic sprinter Andre De Grasse serving as guest draw master. The Woodbine Mile is a Win and You’re In race, offering a fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Deep fields for other Grade 1’s
The other three Grade 1 races over the weekend will all feature deep fields. There are 10 horses listed as probable for Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes for 3-year-olds and upward, along with nine horses for Sunday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Summer Stakes for 2-year-olds, and 11 probables for Sunday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Natalma Stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
The Summer and Natalma offer fees-paid berths to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, respectively.
Johnny Bear and Hawkbill produced a thrilling finish in last year’s Northern Dancer Turf, with Johnny Bear getting up in the final jumps. Hawkbill will be looking to avenge that defeat this time around, having produced a pair of strong efforts in Dubai in March, including a victory in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.
Other probables for the Northern Dancer include Chiefswood Stable homebreds Tiz a Slam and Final Copy, English Illusion, Mekhtaal, Ming, Patterson Cross, Seeking Albert, and Vexatious.
Soaring Free Stakes winner Wallace headlines the prospective field for the Grade 1 Summer Stakes, which also is likely to include recent impressive Woodbine maiden winners Nashtrick and Jungle Warrior. European shipper Federal Law could prove tough in the Summer. Also expected to run are Dob Dob, Skychief, Tricky Magician, Vineyard Sound, and War of Will.
The Grade 1 Natalma Stakes will see Catch a Glimpse stakes winner My Gal Betty square off with Shady Well Stakes winner Tiz Breathtaking. The Natalma also is expected to include Bolton Landing Stakes winner Stillwater Cove, along with a trio of Europeans: Chicas Amigas, La Pelosa, and Pivottina. The remaining expected runners in the field are all local hopefuls, including Artilena, Bold Script, Intanga Rose, and Not Orbinary.
Woodbine will conduct a double draw for Saturday and Sunday’s cards on Wednesday.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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