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Highway to Breeders’ Cup: Sneak Peek at Woodbine Mile and Different Races

Because the highway to the 2023 Breeders’ Cup World Championships picks up momentum in mid-September, the main focus for the upcoming weekend shifts to Woodbine in Toronto, which can host three Problem Collection “Win and You’re In” races on Saturday, Sept. 16.

The marquee occasion is the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes, a prestigious turf occasion that provides the winner an automated berth within the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Offered by PDJF. Two different races on the cardboard, the $500,000 bet365 Summer season Stakes and the $500,000 Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes, provide “Win and You’re In” berths to the Prevagen Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, respectively. The 40th annual Breeders’ Cup will probably be held this 12 months at Santa Anita Park: the 2 juvenile turf races referenced above will probably be held on Nov. 3, and the FanDuel Mile will probably be held on Nov. 4.

Three different races held over the weekend have been influential in sending horses to the Breeders’ Cup over time, significantly the Iroquois Stakes and Pocahontas Stakes, two grime stakes for juveniles held at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Each of these races have been faraway from the Problem Collection final 12 months.

Right here’s some background on the three “Win and You’re In” qualifiers at Woodbine and different races of be aware scheduled for the upcoming weekend:

Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes

The place: Woodbine, Toronto, Ont.

When: Sept. 16

How you can watch: NBC, Peacock, FanDuel TV

“Win and You’re In” for: FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Offered by PDJF

Why it’s vital: This race, which is second solely to the King’s Plate when it comes to status throughout Woodbine’s meet, has had a wealthy historical past since its first working in 1997 – previous to that it was known as the Molson Export Million Stakes and held on grime at 1 1/8 miles. Its crossover with the World Championships started in ’97 when Woodbine Mile winner Geri shipped to Hollywood Park and completed second within the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Since then, three horses have gained the Woodbine Mile and its Breeders’ Cup companion in the identical calendar 12 months: Smart Dan in 2012 and 2013, World Approval in 2017, and Trendy Video games in 2022. However Court docket Imaginative and prescient and Corridor of Famer Tepin gained each races in several years and, on high of that, a handful of also-rans within the Woodbine Mile improved sufficient to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile throughout the identical 12 months. In Tepin’s case, the elite racemare romped within the BC Mile in 2015 at Keeneland and in 2016 overcame a nasty begin to win the Woodbine Mile, which might be her remaining profession victory in a profession that netted greater than $4.4 million in earnings.

Finest winner through the Breeders’ Cup period: World Approval was voted champion turf male in 2017 after impressively successful the Woodbine Mile and Breeders’ Cup Mile back-to-back, and so was Trendy Video games after his two-fer final 12 months … however Smart Dan obtained that honor as properly in each 2012 and 2013, and he was voted Horse of the Yr in each years, too. The favored gelding’s first Woodbine Mile win got here by 3 ¼ lengths and was the second in what turned out to be 9 consecutive victories spanning 2012 and ’13. It was adopted in 2012 by a win within the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland after which a 1 ½-length rating over Animal Kingdom within the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

The final of Smart Dan’s 9 consecutive wins got here within the 2013 Woodbine Mile, the place he romped by 3 ½ lengths, after which the streak got here to an finish when he completed second within the Shadwell Turf Mile after it was moved off the turf and onto what was on the time Keeneland’s all-weather observe as a result of rain. Smart Dan rebounded to publish his second consecutive win within the Breeders’ Cup Mile in his subsequent begin, this time by three-quarters of a size at Santa Anita, after which gained 4 extra graded stakes in 2014 earlier than having to overlook a deliberate three-peat try within the Breeders’ Cup as a result of an ankle harm. He educated in 2015 however was formally retired that fall by proprietor Mort Fink with out making one other begin and concluded his sensational profession with a document of 23 wins and two seconds in 31 begins and greater than $7.5 million in earnings. In his remaining 22 begins, Smart Dan gained 19 occasions and completed second twice, and on turf throughout that stretch he went 15-for-16.

Final 12 months’s outcomes: Globe-trotting famous person Trendy Video games, who had gained the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2021, shipped from coach Charlie Appleby’s base in England to Canada for a begin within the 2022 Woodbine Mile and romped by 5 ½ lengths over U.S.-based Grade 1 winner Ivar. He then traveled again to England and nabbed second within the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes earlier than taking a turnaround journey to North America and rallying strongly to win the FanDuel Mile Offered by PDJF at Keeneland by three-quarters of a size. The Godolphin homebred gained considered one of two begins at age 4 earlier this 12 months earlier than being retired in August.

bet365 Summer season Stakes

The place: Woodbine, Toronto, Ont.

When: Sept. 16

How you can watch: NBC, Peacock, FanDuel TV

“Win and You’re In” for: Prevagen Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf

Why it’s vital: This one-mile race made its first influence on the World Championships a 12 months earlier than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was first held in 2007, when a top-class daughter of Rahy gained the Summer season Stakes after which a Breeders’ Cup race on grime (see beneath). Since 2007, one runner has captured the Summer season-BC Juvenile Turf double, and that got here in 2010 when Pluck gained each races by one size for proprietor Group Valor Worldwide and coach Todd Pletcher.

Finest winner through the Breeders’ Cup period: In fall 2006, the Wayne Catalano-trained filly Dreaming of Anna gained the Summer season Stakes on turf, defeating males, after which shipped to Churchill Downs and gained the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on grime by 1 ½ lengths, with jockey Rene Douglas aboard in each races. Dreaming of Anna obtained the Eclipse Award as 2006 champion juvenile filly and continued to race at a excessive degree by 2008, successful six extra stakes on grass. She was retired with a document of 10 wins, three seconds, and one third in 17 begins with greater than $2 million in earnings.

Final 12 months’s outcomes: Mysterious Night time, like Trendy Video games owned and bred by Godolphin and educated by Charlie Appleby, dominated the Summer season Stakes by 5 ¾ lengths because the odds-on favourite, however the gelding didn’t run within the Breeders’ Cup and has completed off the board in all three begins – two in England and one at Saratoga – this 12 months.

Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes

The place: Woodbine, Toronto, Ont.

When: Sept. 16

How you can watch: FanDuel TV

“Win and You’re In” for: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf

Why it’s vital: The one-mile Natalma has had a major influence on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf for the reason that latter race was first held in 2008; nonetheless, just one filly has gained each races in the identical calendar 12 months (see beneath). However three also-rans within the Natalma – Extra Than Actual in 2010, Stephanie’s Kitten in 2011, and Pizza Bianca in 2021 – would practice on to win the Juvenile Fillies Turf weeks later.

Finest winner through the Breeders’ Cup period: Catch a Glimpse, educated by Woodbine maestro Mark Casse, got here into the 2015 Natalma Stakes having gained her second profession begin, and first on turf, by 1 ¾ lengths on the Toronto observe in August. She improved significantly within the Natalma, main at each level of name and successful by 5 lengths below up-and-coming jockey Florent Geroux. One begin later within the Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland, the filly sat simply off the early tempo, took command in early stretch, and outfinished European shipper and favourite Alice Springs to attain by three-quarters of a size. Catch a Glimpse obtained three Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Horse of the Yr, champion grass mare, and champion 2-year-old filly of 2015. The Metropolis Zip filly maintained high type into the summer season of 2016, successful her first 5 begins of her 3-year-old season – all in stakes – however completed second by a neck that August in a stakes at Saratoga and was not the identical afterward, retiring in spring 2017. 

Final 12 months’s outcomes: Final Name pulled off an upset within the Natalma at 21.15-1 odds over favored Cairo Consort, and the highest pair began within the Juvenile Fillies Turf as longshots within the 20-1 vary going up in opposition to harder competitors. Cairo Consort completed a rallying third at Keeneland, whereas Final Name checked in sixth of 14.

Different weekend stakes:

The Iroquois Stakes and Pocahontas Stakes are the primary qualifying factors races for the 2024 Kentucky Derby Offered by Woodford Reserve and Longines Kentucky Oaks, respectively. As famous above, they have been faraway from the Problem Collection final 12 months as that schedule was revised to evolve to a regional format. That they had been qualifying preps for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Offered by TAA and the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for a number of years after being moved from Churchill Downs’ fall meet (which happens after the Breeders’ Cup) and to its September meet in 2013.

No horse has gained each the Iroquois and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in the identical calendar 12 months, though Not This Time got here oh so shut in 2016. The Dale Romans trainee romped within the Iroquois by 8 ¾ lengths after which got here up a neck in need of eventual champion Traditional Empire within the Juvenile at Santa Anita Park. He was retired quickly after the Juvenile as a result of a delicate tissue harm and Romans extolled the colt’s expertise on the time, saying he was “spooky good.” Not This Time has lived as much as that status as a younger stallion, represented by final 12 months’s champion 3-year-old male Epicenter together with a number of different graded stakes winners.

As for the Pocahontas Stakes, no winner since 2013 has gone on to take the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies both, however the general roster is extra spectacular. Untapable gained the primary Pocahontas to be held in September again in 2013 and a 12 months later gained the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and was voted champion 3-year-old filly. Take Cost Brandi, a disappointing fifth within the 2014 Pocahontas as the favourite, would upset the Juvenile Fillies two begins later at 61.70-1 odds. And Serengeti Empress, the 2018 Pocahontas winner, completed seventh in that fall’s Juvenile Fillies however educated on to be third within the 2019 Longines Distaff after which runner-up within the 2020 Filly and Mare Dash.

The Locust Grove Stakes at Churchill Downs, initially a turf race, was moved to grime in 2013. Since then, the most effective horse to win the race after which shine within the Breeders’ Cup is Blue Prize. That Argentine-bred mare gained the 2018 Locust Grove by a nostril after which adopted by taking a Grade 1 stakes at Keeneland and ending fourth within the Longines Distaff again at Churchill Downs behind Monomoy Woman. In 2019, Blue Prize gained the Distaff at Santa Anita in her remaining profession begin after which was supplied on the Fasig-Tipton November sale three days later, the place she bought for $5 million as a broodmare prospect.



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