EARLY LOOK AT THE GRADE 1 RICOH WOODBINE MILE (12)
Arod (IRE) / Qatar Racing Limited / David Simcock
Conquest Panthera / Gary Barber / Mark Casse
Deauville (IRE) / Mrs. Fitri Hay, Mrs. John Magnier, Mr. Michael Tabor and Mr. Derrick Smith / Aidan O’Brien
Disco Partner / Mrs. Patricia A. Generazio / Christophe Clement
Dragon Bay / Brent McLellan, Russell McLellan and Stuart C. Simon / Stuart Simon
Dutch Connection (GB) / Godolphin / Charlie Hills
Glenville Gardens / Janice Attard / Sid Attard
Lancaster Bomber / Mr. Michael B. Tabor, Mr. Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier / Aidan O’Brien
Long on Value / Wachtel Stable, Kerr, George J. and Barber, Gary / William I. Mott
Mondialiste / Geoff and Sandra Turnbull / David O’Meara
Tower of Texas / Thomas F. Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth / Roger Attfield
World Approval / Live Oak Plantation / Mark Casse
CAN CASSE REPEAT IN RICOH WOODBINE MILE?
Woodbine’s leading trainer Mark Casse will be looking to repeat in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday, Sept. 16 with two contenders in World Approval and Conquest Panthera.
Casse will be aiming for his second straight victory in the $800,000 Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ one-mile test following Tepin’s 2016 triumph and this will mark the second time he’s had two starters in the race.
World Approval kicked off his 2017 campaign as he has the past two seasons: a winner. In fact, he earned back-to-back wins in the EG Vodka Turf Classic Stakes (1-1/8 miles) on April 2 at Tampa Bay and the G2 Longines Dixie Stakes (1-1/16 miles) on May 20 over ‘good’ turf at Pimlico. Following a fifth-place finish in the G1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (1-1/4 miles) on June 10 at Belmont, he won the G1 Fourstardave Handicap (1 mile) over a yielding turf on August 12 at Saratoga.
“I thought his last race was probably the best race he’s ever run,” said Casse of the five-year-old Northern Afleet-Win Approval gelding, who is a career winner of nine races in 22 starts and over $1.45 million. “He just seems to be getting better and better. And it was his first time in a long time we cut him back to a mile, which he seemed to really like.
“We thought our best shot of having a chance at the Breeders’ Cup would be going a mile. The mile and a half is just a little too far for him so when we started cutting him back to a mile, we were hoping with a good performance that we could end up at the Woodbine Mile.
“The biggest thing that World Approval likes is a target, and that’s the one thing about cutting him back when you’re running a mile versus a mile and three-eighths or a mile and a half, the pace is always a little sharper and it allows him to settle and have a target."
Casse said the Live Oaks Plantation homebred is training extremely well at Saratoga. The happy and healthy gelding will follow the hoofprints of last year’s champion filly Tepin in his path to the Woodbine Mile, with Johnny Velazquez picking up the mount.
“We’re going to do the same thing with him as we did with Tepin,” said Casse. “We got her ready for the Woodbine Mile at Saratoga. The thing about Saratoga is you can continue to train on their turf course, which is nice and that’s how we got Tepin ready last year and we’re hoping to do the same with him. He’ll ship up probably Tuesday or Wednesday before the race.”
Conquest Panthera will also head to the Woodbine Mile off a winning effort in rein to Patrick Husbands, who will retain the mount. The five-year-old Kitten’s Joy-Lastofthsummerwine gelding was victorious in the G2 Play the King Stakes on August 19 at Woodbine, improving his E.P. Taylor Turf Course record to two-for-two. He has made just 10 starts lifetime, winning four and banking over $280,000 for owner Gary Barber.
“He’s a horse that we always thought very highly of,” said Casse. “He’s had a lot of different little issues along the way starting when he was a two-year-old and it’s just taken us awhile to get him on track and to get where we can get him in a regular schedule. I thought his last race was good and this next race should be even better.”
Casse also has a handful of promising youngsters nominated to the weekend’s Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ stakes.
“We think Wonder Gadot is special so we’re looking forward to running her in the Natalma,” said Casse.
Mo Big Cat and Sly Beauty are also probable contenders in the Grade 1 one-mile turf stakes for fillies while Lookin To Strike and Differential are among his Summer Stakes (Gr. 2) nominees.
HAWKBILL SETTLED IN AT WOODBINE AFTER LONG FLIGHT
Hawkbill, who is based in England for trainer Charlie Appleby, checked into Woodbine early Tuesday evening for Saturday’s Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes.
The $300,000 Northern Dancer, a 1 ½-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, is the major local prep for the Grade 1, $800,000 Pattison Canadian International over the same course and distance here October 15.
“It was a long journey, but the horse traveled brilliantly,” said traveling head lass Sophia Chretien, who accompanied Hawkbill along with exercise rider Wayne Hogg.
Hawkbill, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred colt who campaigns for Godolphin, is proven in Group 1 company and figures to take some beating in the Northern Dancer.
He will be the first starter in Canada for Appleby, who won the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita in 2013 with Outstrip in his first of two career tries south of the border.
WEDNESDAY’S RICOH WOODBINE MILE DRAW AVAILABLE VIA LIVESTREAM
Wednesday’s draw for the 21st running of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile will be streamed live on WoodbineMile.com starting at 12:00PM. As always, featured news, race replays, history, facts, exclusive interviews and more surrounding the Mile can be found on the official website at WoodbineMile.com.