The 22nd running of the Grade 1, $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile is a “Win & You're In” race for the Breeders' Cup Mile on November 3 so the spotlight is on the nine runners entered, most with graded stakes winning credentials.
Two of those, Stormy Antarctic (GB) and Lord Glitters (FR), cross the pond to prove they have what it takes to face some of the best turf milers in the world in just under two months. Stormy Antarctic (GB) won the Group 2 Badener Meile Stakes this past May in Germany and enters the Ricoh Woodbine Mile off a close finish when beaten a half-length and a head to multiple group 1 stakes winner Beat the Bank in the Group 2 Celebration Mile Stakes last month.
Lord Glitters (FR) missed by a neck to Beat the Bank in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes in July and enters this race off a strong win in the Group 3 Strensall Stakes in August. Of the North American contingent, Delta Prince may be coming into the race in the best form He missed by a neck in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap last month at Saratoga, with a win at this mile trip on the Woodbine turf just before that in the Group 2 Play the King Stakes.
Oscar Performance won the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf two year ago and has earned $1.9 million in his career including a perfect two-for-two record at the distance, but may have to prove he is back in that kind of form after not finishing the race last month in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.
Divisidero is another previous grade 1 winner, having won the Turf Classic Stakes in 2017, but he is winless in four tries at a mile on grass and has only a grade 3 stakes win to his credit in the past 15 months. La Sardane (FR) is a filly facing males who won the Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes in June but who faded to fifth last month in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes.
Mr. Havercamp won the Play the King, beating Vanish by two and one-half lengths, earning his first graded stakes win. He is undefeated in four races on the Woodbine Turf. Good Samaritan has run badly in three races since winning the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March. All were on dirt, but the switch to turf could work in his favor as he won the Grade 2 Summer Stakes on the Woodbine turf in the fall of 2016.
Lord Glitters (FR) appears to be the one to beat in this year's Ricoh Woodbine Mile in spite of the race drawing a very strong field. The competition he has been facing in Europe is stronger than the field he faces today, including Group 1 winners Accidental Agent, Beat the Bank and Lightning Spear. When not facing that top trio last month in the Strensall Stakes, Lord Glitters (FR) won more easily than his half-length margin of victory suggests and that win was on a left handed course like the course at Woodbine.
Since trainer David O'Meara doesn't start many horses in North America, the Individual Research feature of Stats Race Lens quickly lets us know how O'Meara does with the few horses he does ship across the pond. Those results yield a lot in favor of Lord Glitters (FR) being successful in his North American debut because O'Meara has won three of nine races in the past five years including the 2015 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Mondialiste) as well as the Shadwell Turf Mile in 2017 with Suedois, who incidentally was beaten a nose for second by Lord Glitters (FR) in the Sussex Stakes in July.
Jockey Jamie Spencer accompanies the horse and was aboard for his big runner-up finishes in the Summer Mile Stakes in July and right before that in the Queen Anne Stakes so he knows how to motivate Lord Glitters (FR) to obtain his best effort. With a pair of field high 122 Equibase Speed Figures earned in two of his last four races, Lord Glitters (FR) gets top billing to win.
Good Samaritan may come in under the radar of many fans and bettors as his last three efforts yielded fifth, seventh and third place finishes, respectively. However, those three races, as well as the five before that, were all on dirt. His other six starts from his career debut in August 2016 through last July were on turf and included two wins, two second place finishes and one third place finish. Among those was a victory in the 2016 Summer Stakes at Woodbine at this mile turf trip. When tried on dirt last July, Good Samaritan posted the upset in the Jim Dandy Stakes. Then, this past winter he won the New Orleans Handicap with a career-best tying 116 figure. After those three poor efforts, Good Samaritan is moving back to the grass as well as taking blinkers off, which he did not wear in any of his previous turf races. Jockey Joel Rosario rode Good Samaritan in the first 12 races of his career and was aboard for all four wins so being reunited with the colt may lead to a return to top form good enough to post the upset in this race.
Delta Prince loves this mile turf trip, with four wins and two runner-up finishes from six races. Delta Prince is also proven at this level and over the course, having won the King Edward Stakes in June following more than nine months off. He followed that up with a narrow defeat by a neck in the Fourstardave Handicap last month at Saratoga. Jockey Javier Castellano was up for both big efforts and as Delta Prince improved from a 106 figure in the King Edward to a career-best 117 figure in the Fourstardave, he could take a big step forward and give Lord Glitters (FR) and Good Samaritan a run for their money.
The rest of the Woodbine Mile field, with their best representative Speed Figures, is Divisidero (113), La Sardane (FR) (106), Oscar Performance (118), Stormy Antarctic (119) and Vanish (102).
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