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Ricoh Woodbine Mile notes for Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019

September 8, 2019


Horse – Trainer – Owner – Jockey

Admiralty Pier – Barbara J. Minshall – Hoolie Racing Stable LLC and Bruce Lunsford – Patrick Husbands

American Guru – Michael J. Doyle – Stronach Stables – Rafael Hernandez

Awesometank (GB) – William J. Haggas – Lee Yuk Lun – TBA

El Tormenta – Gail Cox – Sam-Son Farm – Eurico Rosa Da Silva

Emmaus (IRE) – Conor Murphy – M and J Thoroughbreds LLC and Riverside Bloodstock LLC – Jamie Spencer

Got Stormy – Mark E. Casse – Gary Barber and Southern Equine Stable LLC – Tyler Gaffalione

Lucullan – Kiaran P. McLaughlin – Godolphin LLC – Luis Saez

Mr Havercamp – Catherine Day Phillips – Sean & Dorothy Fitzhenry – Junior Alvarado

Raging Bull (FR) – Chad C. Brown – Peter M. Brant – Joel Rosario

Silent Poet – Nicholas Gonzalez – Stronach Stables – Gary Boulanger

Synchrony – Michael Stidham – Pin Oak Stable – Flavien Prat


TORONTO, September 8, 2019 – Will the third straight time at Woodbine be the charm for Emmaus?

Trained by Conor Murphy, five-year-old Emmaus, a son of Invincible Spirit, will make his third consecutive start at the Toronto oval, when he goes postward in next Saturday’s Grade 1 $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.

The Kilcarn Stud-bred dark bay finished second, a neck back of winner El Tormenta, in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on June 1 at Woodbine.

On June 29, Emmaus finished fourth to Synchrony in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes.

For Murphy, it was a tale of two races – one good, the other not.

“In the Connaught, he ran a very good race. Seven furlongs is probably just a bit short for him. He was rushed off his feet that day, and ran a big race… just got beat. I always thought he’d be a better horse going a mile. With the King Edward, I think the Connaught lit him up a bit, and not in a good way. For me, he did everything wrong. He was revved up in the paddock, he got out of the gate and he was very keen. He was doing too much early on, yet he was only beaten two lengths.”

Emmaus (#6), runner-up to El Tormenta in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup on June 1 at Woodbine Racetrack (Michael Burns Photo)

Emmaus contested his first eight races in Europe, including a win in his career bow Leicester in September 2016. Last April, again at Leicester, the Irish-bred took the King Richard III Stakes, notching a two-length score in the seven-furlong event raced over heavy ground.

His first North American test came in this April’s Elusive Quality Stakes at Belmont, where he finished second to Therapist, missing out on top spot by a neck.

Murphy is hoping the weather forecast calls for some rain in the lead-up to next Saturday’s fall turf classic.

“We gave him a little break after the King Edward, and I do think he’s back in the right frame of mind. The track is ideal for him (at Woodbine). I would like to see a bit of rain. He doesn’t need soft ground, but I don’t think he enjoys really firm turf.”

Emmaus’ lowest finish to date was a 10th in the Group 2 Qatar Lennox Stakes last July at Goodwood. Although winless since the King Richard III triumph, the M and J Thoroughbreds LLC and Riverside Bloodstock LLC (co-owned by Murphy and his Irish-born, Louisville-based partner Justin Curran), colour bearer is in fine fettle ahead of the Mile.

“I’m very happy,” said Murphy. “Mentally, he’s in a very good place. He’s never been a real flashy work horse… he just does what you ask him. I’m looking forward to next week. He always shows up, so that’s a big plus. And he has a very classy temperament. There is nothing bad I can say about him.”

Emmaus will be partnered with Jamie Spencer for the Mile. Five years ago, Spencer teamed with Trade Storm to win the race. The veteran rider has enjoyed other successes at Woodbine, including taking two editions of the Northern Dancer aboard Wigmore Hall (2011-2012).


TORONTO, September 8, 2019—Shakespeare, Kiaran McLaughlin’s most recent Woodbine Mile entrant, came into that 2007 edition as a Grade 1 winner and played his role to perfection as the 9-5 choice.

Now, a dozen years later, McLaughlin returns with Lucullan, who is coming off his first stakes score in a restricted turf stakes at Saratoga and will looking to prove his mettle in the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile on Saturday, Sept 14.

“He’s doing very well,” said Kiaran McLaughlin, who conditions Lucullan for the international powerhouse Godolphin. “He’s ready to go. He’s a really nice horse.”

Lucullan did not make the races as a two-year-old but found his calling when moved to turf for his third start the following year, winning his maiden at 1 1/16 miles and a first-level allowance at a flat mile before making his stakes debut in Belmont’s Grade 2 Hill Prince at 1 1/8 miles.

The Kentucky-bred was beaten a neck there as the runner-up, splitting winner Yoshida and third-place Bricks and Mortar, who have gone on to become multiple Grade 1 stakes winners.

“He showed he had some class,” said McLaughlin.

The son of Hard Spun continued in good form at four, but saw action only three times before again going to the sidelines.

“He had some issues behind, a hairline cannon-bone (fracture),” said McLaughlin. “The owner was kind enough to take plenty of time.”

That led to a lengthy absence of 14 months before Lucullan resurfaced at Belmont with a sharp allowance score.

“He came back great,” said McLaughlin. “He was ready to take a big step up.”

Following the Lure, McLaughlin began looking toward the Woodbine Mile.

“There was the Bernard Baruch (at Saratoga) but luckily we had another horse for it, Qurbaan, and he won it,” said the trainer.

McLaughlin said the fact that Lucullan gets a break in the weights, carrying 117 points, and the nature of the Woodbine Mile layout also were factors in making this race his target.

“We like that mile, at Woodbine,” said McLaughlin. “We feel like it’s pretty fair. You get stopped, and in traffic, and coming for home things open up if you’re good enough. It’s a long stretch.”

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