TORONTO, September 15, 2021 – Hall of Fame conditioner Mark Casse will send out the talented trio of March to the Arch, Olympic Runner and Ride a Comet, in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, part of a stellar Saturday stakes showcase that also includes the Grade 1 $600,000 Pattison Canadian International and Grade 2 $250,000 Canadian Stakes.
The 25th running of the Mile, worth $1 million and contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course, has attracted a strong field of 10 hopefuls. The Mile and International will be showcased on a live broadcast airing on TSN1 and TSN3 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. ET.
Under the terms of the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ Challenge Series, the Woodbine Mile winner will be entitled to a fees-paid berth for the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile, to be run on November 6 at Del Mar.
The silver anniversary edition of the Mile features a gold-standard mix of local and international turf stars, as well as some of the top trainers and jockeys in the sport.
Casse, who won back-to-back runnings of the race, in 2016 with Tepin and 2017 with World Approval, will look for his third victory with three formidable runners.
A six-year-old son of Arch, March to the Arch, a Live Oak Plantation homebred, is no stranger to Woodbine or the Woodbine Mile.
The bay gelding sports a record of 4-3-1 from eight starts at the Toronto oval and an overall record of 8-4-4 from 28 races.
March to the Arch, who was second, a length behind Starship Jubilee in the 2020 Mile, was third in the Grade 3 Dominion Day on July 1 and then won the Niagara Stakes on July 25.
The Florida-bred heads into the Mile off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes on August 15 where he made a late surge after encountering traffic troubles down the long E.P. Taylor Turf Course stretch.
“March to the Arch prefers a little more time between his races, plus we brought him in off a mile-and-an-eighth, so he might not have been as sharp that day,” noted Casse. “But he’s a great horse, very consistent, and he’s doing very well ahead of the race.”
Olympic Runner, owned by Gary Barber, arrives at Saturday’s $1 million classic off a sensational score in the King Edward.
With Rafael Hernandez in the irons, the five-year-old son of Gio Ponti found daylight down the lane and went on to notch a 1 ½-length victory.
Sporting a record of 3-5-2 from 13 Woodbine engagements, the gelding, bred by Eutrophia Farm LTD, just missed winning his previous start, the Grade 2 Connaught Cup, finishing a nose behind Avie’s Flatter, who is also set to contest the Mile.
Olympic Runner has a 5-7-2 mark from 23 starts, including a 2-2-0 line from seven appearances this year.
“I thought Raffi [jockey, Hernandez] did a great job,” said Casse, of the King Edward. “The pace was moderate, I guess, so he was able to position him a little closer to the pace. That horse has been so close to having a breakout performance. I kept waiting and waiting for it, and it finally came in that race. It was an excellent effort.”
Multiple graded stakes winner Ride a Comet will seek to keep his perfect record at Woodbine intact.
A six-year-old son of Candy Ride co-owned by John Oxley and breeder My Meadowview LLC, Ride a Comet is undefeated in his four Woodbine starts.
The Kentucky-bred bay’s most recent triumph at the Toronto oval came in the 2020 Grade 2 Kennedy Road.
Ride a Comet, 8-1-2 from 17 starts, comes into the Mile off a third-place effort in the Grade 2 Wise Dan at Churchill Downs on June 26.
“We felt he wasn’t training that well, so we gave him a bit of a break. And that seems to have really helped. He’s training much better coming into this race. He’ll be ready. He’s a nice horse and he obviously like running at Woodbine.”
Casse is grateful to have three shots at winning the Mile.
“I am. Everybody is coming into the race in good order. I think each one has a legitimate chance to win the race.”
Ian Dalos’ consistent graded stakes-winning homebred Avie’s Flatter will chase his seventh win in what will be his 17th career start.
The five-year-old son of Flatter has two wins from three races this year, and goes into the Mile off a fourth in the King Edward.
Trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Josie Carroll, Avie’s Flatter contested all three jewels of the 2019 Canadian Triple Crown, finishing second in both the Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales, and third in the Breeders’ Stakes.
Change of Control, trained by Michelle Lovell for Perry Harrison, finished third in her first start at Woodbine, the Grade 2 Royal North Stakes, on August 1.
The five-year-old daughter of Fed Biz, who has compiled a 7-6-6 mark from 28 lifetime starts, will be testing out the Grade 1 ranks for the first time.
She notched her first graded title with a win in the Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont this June.
A bay son of Lope de Vega (IRE), the Mile will represent the Canadian debut for Duke of Hazzard (FR).
Trained by Paul Cole for Mrs. F. Hay, the five-year-old hasn’t made a trip to the winner’s circle since 2019 when he notched a natural hat trick with two victories at Goodwood and another at Newmarket.
Raging Bull (FR) will get his second shot at Mile glory after finishing fourth, placed third, in the 2019 running.
A multiple graded stakes winner trained by Chad Brown for Peter Brant, the son of Dark Angel is 7-4-3 from 20 starts, his victories including last year’s Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile and this year’s Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile.
The six-year-old bay, bred by Dayton Investments Limited, was recently sixth as the even-money choice in the Grade 1 Fourstardave on August 14 at Saratoga.
Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, Set Piece (GB) has been the model of consistency over 17 career races, sporting a 9-2-1 stat line.
The five-year-old son of Dansili has three wins and a pair of seconds in his last five appearances, including a victory in the Grade 2 Wise Dan.
Trained by Brad Cox, the dark bay was off a step slowly in the Grade 1 Fourstardave, but regrouped to finish second.
Space Traveller (GB), a five-time winner from 20 starts, will look to get back to the form that saw the son of Bated Breath (GB) triumph at York this June.
Owned by Clipper Logistics, the Brendan Walsh trainee has competed twice in the U.S., the first assignment coming in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Mile (10th). The five-year-old dark bay was recently fourth in the Grade 1 Mr. D. Stakes at Arlington on August 14.
The Mile will be his first start in Canada.
Trained, owned and co-bred (along with his father Terrance) by Brandon Greer, popular local entrant Town Cruise will make his 14th career start – all at Woodbine – this Saturday.
A six-year-old son of Town Prize, the chestnut, with a 5-2-1 record from 13 starts, finished a gutsy second to Olympic Runner in the King Edward.
The Mile will be the gelding’s foray into Grade 1 waters.
“Town is coming in with very good energy and high confidence, something I see increasing with each of his races this year,” said Brandon Greer. It’s quite a privilege having the opportunity to run with some of the best horses in Canada and internationally. I’m sure Town will give it his best shot, which could never be disappointing to us. We’re happy to be here.”
The outstanding Ricoh Woodbine Mile program will also feature the Grade 2 $250,000 Canadian Stakes, part of the Ladies of the Lawn series in support of Rethink Breast Cancer.
First race post time on Saturday is set for 1:10 p.m. For more information, visit Woodbine.com.
$1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Grade 1)
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
1 – Town Cruise – Daisuke Fukumoto – Brandon Greer
2 – Olympic Runner – Rafael Hernandez – Mark Casse
3 – March to the Arch – Patrick Husbands – Mark Casse
4 – Ride a Comet – Antonio Gallardo – Mark Casse
5 – Set Piece (GB) – Joel Rosario – Brad Cox
6 – Change of Control – Colby Hernandez – Michelle Lovell
7 – Raging Bull (FR) – Frankie Dettori – Chad Brown
8 – Avie’s Flatter – Luis Contreras – Josie Carroll
9 – Duke of Hazzard (GB) – Kazushi Kimura – Paul Cole
10 – Space Traveller (GB) – Daniel Tudhope – Brendan Walsh
@Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications