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Ricoh Woodbine Mile Caps Off Jockey Club Tour on Fox

Michael Dempsey@turfnsportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2014

In this photo provided by photographer Michael Burns, jockey Garrett Gomez rallies up the rail aboard Shakespeare to capture the $1,000,000  Woodbine Mile over the E.P.Taylor turf course at Woodbine in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday Sept. 16, 2007.  (AP Photo/Michael Burns,CP)
Michae Burns/Associated Press

The horse racing action moves north of the border on Sunday, as the Jockey Club Tour on Fox heads to Woodbine in Toronto for the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile. 

With just 48 days left before the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, the horse racing action picks up over the next month with key preps for racing’s championship two-day event.

The Woodbine Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, which will be contested on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita.

The race is the final stop of the Jockey Club Tour on Fox. The 90-minute telecast gets underway at 5 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

The on-air duties will be handled by Greg Wolf, Richard Migliore, Andy Serling, Simon Bray and Alyssa Ali. The telecast will include a feature on historic performances by Northern Dancer and Secretariat at Woodbine, as well as a “Stars of Tomorrow” segment on Skye Chernetz—a 21-year-old female jockey who is competing at Woodbine.

Two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan won the last two runnings of the Woodbine Mile and went on to win the last two editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile.  The gelding is skipping this year’s Woodbine Mile after getting the summer off recovering from colic surgery. He will make his next start in the Grade 1, Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 4 and then will seek his third consecutive win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

We have had rain this week in the Toronto area, and a light rain was falling on Saturday, which should leave the turf course less than firm for Sunday’s action.

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Jeff Bratt @WoodbineBratt

According to the Woodbine weather station we have had 1.1 mm of rain @WoodbineRacing so far today. #WoMile

The supporting stakes on an outstanding betting card on Sunday are the Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian and the Grade 1, $300,000 Northern Dancer. The Canadian is a “Win and You’re In” race for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Here are my selections for the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile:

 

Win: Jack Milton   7-2

Jack Milton ships in from New York for the Todd Pletcher barn, and the colt is coming off a third-place finish in the Fourstardave Handicap (G2) at Saratoga in his last outing. The colt stalked the early pace while saving ground into the first turn, got caught up in behind eventual runner up Grand Arch inside the final furlong and finished up well when clear, beaten a length for the top spot behind the winner Seek Again, who set a course record. He has won a couple of graded stakes, the last coming three back in the Poker (G3) at a mile at Belmont Park.

The colt should get a good pace set up here as the early pace should be swift. Javier Castellano is in to ride for Pletcher, who has not had a starter in this race since 2007 when Host checked in fifth. The colt's last trip over ground less than firm was in last year's Virginia Derby (G2), where he was third, beaten just a couple of heads for the top spot.

Place: Bobby’s Kitten   15-1

Bobby's Kitten set the early fractions and could not hold off the winner late in a runner-up finish in the Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga in his last start. He bounced back with a good effort after fading to finish a well-beaten eighth in the Belmont Derby (G1) two back over ground labeled as good. He takes on older here for the first time, and we have not seen a three-year-old win this race since Skip Away in 1996.

The Chad Brown trainee is usually on the lead but will likely take a tracking trip here behind Ancil and Silver Freak, who both possess good early zip. If it sets up that way, he should be sitting in the garden spot when they turn for home, and he could be right in the mix at a generous price. Note Castellano is off to stick with Jack Milton, but the colt gets a suitable replacement in Joel Rosario. The colt has handled ground with some give to it, winning the Penn Mile three back over a good turf course.

Show: Kaigun   5-2

Kaigun won the seven-furlong Play the King (G2) last out over the turf at Woodbine and comes into this race very sharp. The win snapped a four-race losing streak, but two of those losses came to two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan back in the spring.

Two back in the United Nations (G1) going 1 3/8 miles, he prompted the early pace and weakened late to finish fifth, beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the beaten favorite. The winner of that race was Main Sequence, who came back to win the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga in his next start on Aug. 17. He is a logical player here for one of Canada's leading barns, but Mark Casse has never won this race, and the price is going to end up on the light side.

Morning line odds via Equibase

Follow Michael Dempsey on Twitter @turfnsport

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