By Sid Fernando for WoodbineMile.com
TORONTO, September 14 – There are three European raiders that have excellent chances in this race.
According to weather reports, sunny skies are forecast for Saturday. The ground for the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes figures to be firm, and this will aid the performances of some of the Europeans who’ve been just so-so on heavier ground back home. Mondialiste, a seven-year-old son of Galileo from Occupandiste, by Kaldoun; and Deauville, a four-year-old by Galileo out of the Danehill mare Walklikeanegyptian, are two Galileos that, surprisingly, act on firm turf. Most Galileos relish some cut in the ground, and it’s one reason why they are so at home in Europe, where softer going is more the norm than the exception. Another reason: the Galileos get their trips in Europe, and, mostly, they are best suited at distances greater than a mile.
Mondialiste won this race in 2015 over a yielding course. Earlier that year, he was only a Group 3 winner in Europe over nine furlongs, though he’d been third in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at a mile. More recently, in 2016, he won the Grade 1 Arlington Million at a mile and a quarter over firm turf and followed that performance with a fast-closing fourth in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. He hasn’t won since then, and it’s why he’s listed at 8-1 on the morning line for this race. That’s good value.
Mondialiste’s best distance is probably a mile and a quarter on firm ground or a mile on heavier going, but he routinely faces better competition in Europe and has a class edge against the North Americans. That’s evident in his past performances. Two races back, he was beaten a nose in the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes on good to soft ground over a mile and five-sixteenths but last out he was only sixth in a Group 3 race at a mile and a sixteenth, a race that was probably used to sharpen him with this one in mind. The latter race, therefore, can probably be ignored. Mondialiste is a closer who will get plenty of pace in this race, and with the ground to his liking he should figure in the finish and get a piece of the purse.
Deauville, the 5-2 morning line choice, has much better recent form in Europe than Mondialiste. He’s been in the frame in the last six of his seven 2017 starts, and he has one win at a mile and five-sixteenths in a Group 3 race. Like Mondialiste, he’s probably best at a mile and a quarter on firm going. Last year, as a three-year-old, he won the Grade 1 Belmont Derby at that trip racing on the pace, and followed that effort with a third to Mondialiste in the Arlington Million after making the lead in the straight. Because he has more natural speed than Mondialiste, the mile should suit him better, and with his recent form he deserves to be the favorite in this race. But he’s not the pick here to win.
The horse with the ideal pedigree for this race is the 9-2 Lancaster Bomber, Deauville’s three-year-old stablemate from Ballydoyle. By War Front, whose offspring have been in high demand at the Keeneland September yearling sale this week, Lancaster Bomber is out of Sun Shower, who has produced three black-type winners in addition to the black-type placed Lancaster Bomber. The best of them was the three-time Group 1 winning miler Excelebration, who happened to be unlucky enough to be born in the same crop as Frankel.
Lancaster Bomber’s pedigree is all about a mile on turf. Aside from being a half-brother to Excelebration, his broodmare sire Indian Ridge sired Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile winners Domedriver and Ridgewood Pearl. His sire War Front is one of the premier sires of turf milers in the world, and War Front’s sire, Danzig, established a line of stallions in Europe and Australia whose bread and butter was the turf mile. A win in this race would make Lancaster Bomber a highly desirable stud prospect, and he has every chance on pedigree to win this race.
His form isn’t bad, either. He’s been knocking heads with the premier three-year-old milers of Europe, horses such as dual Guineas winner Churchill and Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes winner Barney Roy. And he’s had to do it on soft ground he doesn’t like. On better ground, he was able to run second last year to Churchill in the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst over seven furlongs, and second again in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at a mile to Oscar Performance – possibly the best three-year-old colt in North America at the moment.
The Danzig tribe like to hear their feet rattle, and Lancaster Bomber will get the firm turf he wants Saturday. The feeling here is that he’ll flatter Oscar Performance, a three-time Grade 1 winner, in the Woodbine Mile.
1. Lancaster Bomber
Sid Fernando is an internationally known pedigree writer whose work has appeared in Daily Racing Form, Racing Post, Pacemaker, Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, North American Trainer, and various other publications. He also is president of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks. He blogs at Sid Fernando + Observations and is on Twitter at @sidfernando.