The 23rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile is a "Win & You're In" race for the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile on November 2 so there's a lot more at stake than the winner's share of the seven-figure purse. Leading the field are a pair of horses coming off tremendous wins at the top level – Got Stormy and Synchrony, the former a filly who beat males last month in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga and the latter a similarly impressive winner in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes over the Woodbine turf in June.
The depth of the field does not stop with those two however, as Silent Poet enters the race off a victory over the course in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes just three weeks ago. Lucullan won the non-graded Lure Stakes last month at Saratoga and will attempt a Grade 1 stakes for the first time, while Fourstardave runner-up Raging Bull (FR) hopes to turn the tables on Got Stormy this time around. El Tormenta won the Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes at Woodbine in June but could only manage fourth behind Silent Poet last month in the Play the King. Similarly, Emmaus (IRE) was beaten a neck in the Connaught Cup but was a non-threatening fourth behind Synchrony in the King Edward in his most recent start. Another filly, Awesometank (GB), was second in the Grade 1 Beverly D Stakes last month in her North American debut and hopes to improve. Admiralty Pier, American Guru and Made You Look round out the field.
As impressive as Got Stormy was beating males in the Fourstardave Handicap last month at Saratoga, Synchrony was equally impressive when winning the King Edward Stakes at Woodbine in late June. Synchrony eared a 109 Equibase Speed Figure in that race, not nearly the 114 career-best earned winning the Red Bank Stakes last summer at the distance of the Woodbine Mile, but the manner in which he won suggests he hasn't yet run his best race this year. Lagging back in seventh of eight with a quarter mile to go, Synchrony wheeled out while losing a lot of ground and made up four lengths in less than an eighth of a mile to win in "ridden out" fashion. He had shipped up from trainer Michael Stidham's base at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland for the race and right after that he returned to that location, putting in a series of strong workouts including a "bullet" best of the day workout seven days ago. Having earned nearly $900,000 in his career, the highest in the field, Synchrony should get a strong pace to run at once again as it appears both Admiralty Pier and American Guru will have to show early speed from outside posts to get good inside position going into the first turn. As a multiple Grade 2 stakes winner and likely to fire a big shot fresh off a two and one-half month layoff as he did in February when winning the Fair Grounds Handicap, Synchrony could be moving fastest of all in the final stages to win this year's Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Got Stormy has run the two best races of her career in her two most recent starts. That shouldn't come as a surprise as she's still a maturing 4-year-old. Returning from two months off on August 3, Got Stormy won the De La Rose Stakes with a 110 figure, bettering that seven days later with a 118 figure earned in the Fourstardave Handicap. In that race, Got Stormy was 14 lengths back early off a very strong pace and when asked to pick up the tempo she responded very well to draw off by two and a half lengths at the end. Like Synchrony and unlike some of the other entrants in this race, Got Stormy has familiarity with the Woodbine Turf, having captured the Ontario Colleen Stakes last July in her only previous start on this track. Just the same, trainer Mark Casse is taking no chances, so he gave the filly a strong half-mile workout on the course just one week ago to ensure she is ready to run her best in this race. With her seven career wins at this mile turf trip the best in the field by far, Got Stormy has every right to win her second Grade 1 in a row.
Although I feel Synchrony and Got Stormy are a cut above the rest, there are a few others I would consider as contenders in the race, particularly for exacta wagers. Silent Poet earned a career-best 112 figure when winning the Play the King Stakes at seven furlongs on the course last month. The Woodbine Mile is a one turn race as well and the horse is making his third start off a seven-month layoff so he has potential to improve. Lucullan is also making his third start off a layoff and won his two most recent races, including a 113 figure effort in his comeback race in July. The competition he faced in the Lure Stakes last month wasn't nearly as tough as he faces in this race but having won five of nine career races on grass he's shown a lot of competitive spirit to date, which can't be taken for granted. Raging Bull (FR) was four lengths behind Got Stormy in the Fourstardave when he began his rally and two and a half back at the finish. He won the Hollywood Derby last December but is winless in four races since then. However, he could be passing many of these in the stretch.
The rest of the Woodbine Mile field, with their best representative Speed Figures: Admiralty Pier (102), American Guru (112), Awesometank (GB) (108), El Tormenta (108), Emmaus (IRE) (109) and Made You Look (113).
Raging Bull (FR)