The $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile is year-in, year-out, one of the most anticipated races on the road to the Breeders’ Cup, drawing top turf horses to compete for the lucrative purse and an automatic berth in the FanDuel Mile Presented by PDJF via the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” series.
This year’s race shapes up as a worthy renewal, drawing a competitive eight-horse field. From a handicapping perspective, it’s quite an intriguing puzzle as the race has drawn a mixture of horses with proven graded stakes form on turf and a couple that have intriguing long-term potential.
In the Woodbine Mile, I’ll use the trifecta as my wagering option, structuring the bets around classic winner War of Will (#8). The 2019 Preakness champ is back on what I think is his preferred surface, turf, where he began his racing career in 2018 and has won one of two starts this year. That win came in the July 10 Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes at Keeneland, where he stalked the pace in third and fought gamely in the stretch to win by a neck in a blanket finish. I expect him to fashion a similar trip in the Woodbine Mile, tracking closely behind projected pacesetter Admiralty Pier (#6) and Armistice Day (#2). He should get the jump on the closers coming out of the turn and call on his stamina to hold off challengers through Woodbine’s long homestretch. The mare Starship Jubilee (#4) should also be among the early leaders. She has earned over $1.6 million in her career and is four-for-six on Woodbine’s turf. I expect her to round back into top form after a tough assignment in her last race, when she finished fourth in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga. Her best effort is enough to win this race, even as she goes up against males.
Three of the other four horses entered in the Woodbine Mile all project as closers, and among that trio I will use March to the Arch (#1) and Value Proposition (#7) as contenders joining Starship Jubilee as the main threats to War of Will. March to the Arch occasionally fires a big race and did just that in the Aug. 15 Grade 2 King Edward Stakes on this course and at this distance. The pace should be honest enough to set up his off-the-pace rally and get him into the top three. Value Proposition is less accomplished than March to the Arch, Starship Jubilee, and War of Will but he’s got both the breeding (by top English sire Dansili) and the connections (owner Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown) to suggest there’s still plenty of ability that’s yet to be reached. He’s been off since July and training very well at Saratoga, and I think he will give a career-best effort in the Woodbine Mile.
The wild card in this race is Shirl’s Speight (#3), a 3-year-old that did not make his debut until July but has gone two-for-two since then, winning the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Marine Stakes last out on Woodbine’s synthetic main track. This Roger Attfield trainee has looked very impressive in both of his wins, but I am hoping (and gambling) that the big class test in a Grade 1 turf event will prove too high a leap for him to make in just his third career start.
I’ll make three trifecta bets in the Woodbine Mile limited to a $30 budget and using America’s Best Racing’s handy gambling calculator sponsored by 1/ST BET. I’ll key War of Will on top of a $1 trifecta and put March to the Arch, Starship Jubilee, and Value Proposition in second, and then the entire field in third. That bet costs $18 total. I’ll then bet another $1 trifecta keying War of Will over March to the Arch, Starship Jubilee and Value Proposition in the second and third spots for a trifecta totaling $6 – and then flip the top two positions in another $1 trifecta, placing War of Will in second and the other three horses mentioned in first and third, spending my final $6. If War of Will wins the race and two horses from the group of March to the Arch, Starship Jubilee or Value Proposition finish second and third, I’ll cash a $2 trifecta. If one of those three horses finishes second to War of Will and one of the other four contenders in the Woodbine Mile (including Olympic Runner [#5]) finishes third, I’ll have a $1 dollar trifecta. And if War of Will finishes second to either March to the Arch, Starship Jubilee, or Value Proposition and one of those horses also finishes third, I’ll have a $1 trifecta using a “hedge bet” strategy.
What to say at the betting window:
Woodbine, race 9, $1 trifecta, 8 with 1,4,7 with all ($18)
Woodbine, race 9, $1 trifecta, 8 with 1,4,7 with 1,4,7($6)
Woodbine, race 9, $1 trifecta, 1,4,7 with 8 with 1,4,7($6)