The well-travelled Space Traveller (GB) will make his Canadian debut in Saturday’s Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Trained by Brendan Walsh, the five-year-old son of Bated Breath (GB) has competed at various venues throughout Great Britain and a pair of U.S. racetracks, namely, Santa Anita and Arlington.
Bred by El Catorce Partnership and owned by Clipper Logistics, Space Traveller brings a mark of 5-2-2 from 20 starts into the Mile. His most recent triumph came on June 11 at York when he took the Ganton Stakes.
“He’s a great horse,” praised Walsh. “He’s a really nice horse to have around. He’s been very good and very professional since he came to us. He’s a horse that we like a lot.”
Space Traveller put himself on the racing radar after a 25-1 upset of Space Blues in the 2019 Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot.
His rookie 2018 campaign was a mix of success and disappointment. After winning his first two starts, he was off the board in three of four stakes appearances that included the Group 2 Gimcrack and Group 1 Middle Park.
The start of his three-year-old season began in promising fashion when Space Traveller was second in the European Free Handicap and third in the Carnarvon Stakes. In his final test ahead of the Royal Ascot triumph, a listed event at Maisons-Laffitte, he finished a troubled seventh.
After a sixth in the Lennox Stakes (G2), Space Traveller tackled nine panels in the Strensall S. (G3) where he was third.
Space Traveller then rallied from last to emerge victorious in the Group 2 Boomerang Mile, picking off Matterhorn to take all the spoils. He wasn’t nearly as fortunate in his Breeders’ Cup Mile appearance where was eighth to winner Uni.
His four-year-old campaign never hit full stride. He raced once in 2020, finishing sixth in Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, before being sent to the sidelines due to injury.
The dark bay returned this March and finished tenth in the Doncaster Mile, but won next time out in the aforementioned Ganton Stakes. He was eighth in the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot, followed by a sixth-place performance in the Group 1 Sussex at Goodwood.
He arrives at the Mile after contesting the Grade 1 Mr. D. Stakes on August 14 at Arlington, where he rallied to finish fourth in the 1 ¼-mile turf event.
“I thought he ran really well,” offered Walsh. “He got into a little traffic, which didn’t help, but I thought he ran a really good race and he’s been doing super since he got to Woodbine. So, hopefully, he can run a similar race. I think the mile will suit him very well.”
As will the long E.P. Taylor stretch.
“I think the course will definitely be to his liking. It’s a more European type of track and I think that will also really help him.”
Although Space Traveller’s career has been defined by a series of ups and downs, Walsh, who recently eclipsed the 400-win mark, believes his contender can produce a big effort against top-tier competition on Saturday.
Landing in the Woodbine winner’s circle after the Mile would suit Walsh just fine.
“He’s run some cracking races in Europe. If he can reproduce that form, he should be right there.”
Should he win, Space Traveller would join Labeeb (1998) and Trade Storm (2014) as Ricoh Woodbine Mile champions bred in Great Britain.
@Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications