A large contingent of European contenders for this weekend's stakes races at Woodbine touched down in Toronto at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night after a cancelled Monday flight from Amsterdam delayed normal shipping procedures.
It was a bustling quarantine barn on Friday morning as the new arrivals settled in to a new routine and ventured to both turf and Tapeta to stretch their legs. Among the new arrivals were Lord Glitters and Stormy Antarctic, who will square off in Saturday's Grade 1 $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, a Win and You're In Challenge Series race for the Breeders' Cup Mile.
Trainer David O'Meara and exercise rider Fearghal Davis walked Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course on Friday morning before sending the talented grey Lord Glitters out for a spin.
“He's traveled fine,” said O'Meara. “It's not our normal routine. We'd normally have a few days to settle in and have a canter on the Thursday. With the travel disruption we didn't get in until late last night, but he appears to have taken it all very well. The race itself will be the telling point.”
Davis piloted Lord Glitters through an easy training session as the 5-year-old Whipper gelding experienced Woodbine for the first time.
“He just had a half-speed canter up the track. It's as much as we ever do when we come abroad,” said O'Meara. “I'm contemplating whether to give him a little bit of exercise in the morning as well. We'll see how he is.”
O'Meara and owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull teamed up to win the Ricoh Woodbine Mile in 2015 with Mondialiste.
“They're pretty similar. They've both got a very good turn of foot from the back of the field late on,” stated O'Meara. “This guy (Lord Glitters) would be bigger and a bit more powerful. He was second in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and third in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, and an unlucky third as well. He has very strong form in England to bring over here.”
If all goes well on Saturday for Lord Glitters, O'Meara envisions another crack at Ascot.
“He'd go home first and might run in the Queen Elizabeth II, a mile race at Ascot on Champions Day. He's had a win and two seconds there, including in a Group 1. He handles most grounds so if it came up soft that time of year it wouldn't bother him too much,” said O'Meara. “And then, if everything was still good with him, we'd like to take him to the Breeders' Cup if he's still in good form.”
O'Meara's former Woodbine Mile champion Mondialiste, who went on to finish second in that year's Breeders' Cup Mile and then win the Grade 1 Arlington Million in 2016, is enjoying his new career as a stallion standing at the Turnbull's Elwick Stud in Northern England.
“We are delighted with how well Mondialiste has settled in to his role as a stallion here at Elwick Stud,” said Geoff Turnbull. “He took to his first covering season like a natural and has showed an excellent rate of fertility. We are extremely excited to welcome in the new year and to have his first foals on the ground.
“It's going to be very interesting to see what sort of stamp he puts on them, if they have his personality and ability we will be very pleased! We are, of course, also looking forward to getting underway with another great covering season in 2019 too.”
Stormy Antarctic, based in England with trainer Ed Walker and owned by P. K. Siu, also shipped in for his North American bow.
The 5-year-old gelding has been in career form this year with in-the-money finishes in his five starts including wins in a Group 3 in France and a Group 2 in Germany. Gérald Mossé will ride on Saturday.
“It's been good. He's handled it quite well so far. He's a good traveler. He's been as far as Hong Kong and travels well,” said Gary Plasted, senior travelling head lad for Walker. “He just walked all the way around on the grass for a mile and a half and then had a bit of a trot.
“He'll probably have a bit of a canter tomorrow,” continued Plasted. “Not too much, just to get him out. He's pretty fit.”
Chicas Amigas, who will star in Sunday's Grade 1 Natalma Stakes, was purchased privately by Qatar Racing following an allowance win over males on the turf at the Curragh last time out
Trained by Jessica Harrington, Chicas Amigas was recently seen landing second behind stablemate Servalan in a listed race at Naas. The daughter of Dragon Pulse enjoyed a tour of Woodbine's Tapeta surface here Friday.
“She traveled well. We sent her for a lovely little trot for a circuit and then had a four-furlong slow canter. We have an All-Weather surface back home. She'll be used to that and just keep her on the All-Weather and save the grass for when she runs,” said exercise rider Andrew Leigh, who is hoping his first trip to Canada will be a memorable one.
Pivottina, trained by Ludovic Gadbin, won on debut in France and after a pair of runner-up efforts was most recently fourth in the Group 2 Shadwell Prix du Calvados at Deauville over seven furlongs of turf.
“The filly looks well and looks to have recovered well after the flight. We'll cross our fingers for Sunday,” said Gadbin.
Gadbin was on hand to watch the daughter of Vision D'Etat travel over the Tapeta on Friday.
“She just had a small trotting and a relaxed walk. She will go tomorrow to the track and have a good canter to finish,” said Gadbin, who believes his filly should enjoy Sunday's one-turn mile. “The form is well with her. She started out with less distance going six furlongs and now we go further. The mile will be definitely better for her.”
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