One-mile turf stakes are not as fashionable in North America as they are in Europe, but there are a few of them in this part of the world that truly stand out. One of them is the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, which will be contested Saturday at Woodbine in Canada and is a Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF on Nov. 7 at Keeneland. A collection of top international runners have raised the magnitude of the race to a point where six of the last 20 runnings have been won by horses who captured a Breeders’ Cup race at some point in their career. We’ll see if that trend continues this year.
ricoh woodbine mile
1. March to the Arch (5-2): He seems to like the surroundings at Woodbine, winning both starts at the Canadian track. He was a convincing victor last time out in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes, a prep over the track in mid-August, and should benefit from a ground-saving trip and the long stretch.
2. Armistice Day (20-1): He’s only won 3 of 14 starts and is coming off a third in an allowance race at Woodbine. With a winless record in graded stakes company, this seems an unlikely spot to beat top-level competition.
3. Shirl’s Speight (8-1): For a while, he was considered a Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve candidate, which was surprising considering he has yet to race on dirt. Though undefeated, he faces a tough challenge here as a 3-year-old starting for just the third time, but his lopsided maiden win here indicates he has the kind of talent to be a factor on his best try.
4. Starship Jubilee (4-1): There is plenty to like about this 7-year-old mare. She surely loves the surface with six wins in 13 tries, including a victory in last year’s Grade 1 E. P. Taylor Stakes. She won her first four starts in 2020 before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes against a star-studded field. A filly won this race in 2016 (Tepin) and one was second last year (Got Stormy), and she’s certainly capable of matching their success.
5. Olympic Runner (15-1): He’s a consistent sort, finishing in the money in eight of 12 starts. Yet with an 0-for-5 mark on turf, it’s hard to build a case for him here. He’s the weak link among three starters sent out by trainer Mark Casse.
6. Admiralty Pier (10-1): He was second to March to the Arch by 2 ¼ lengths in the King Edward after setting the early fractions. That speed should come in handy here and makes him an intriguing possibility for the exotics.
7. Value Proposition (6-1): It’s usually trainer Chad Brown who outnumbers everyone else in graded turf stakes, but this is his lone entrant in a field that includes three runners from Casse and two from Barbara Minshall. One may be enough, however, as this ridgling is well-rested and has been working sharply since July when he was third in the Poker Stakes at Belmont Park. With three wins in five career starts, he cannot be overlooked.
8. War of Will (2-1): He’s the rare runner who can boast about a Triple Crown win and a Grade 1 turf win. The Triple Crown victory came in the 2019 Preakness for Casse and he woke up in his second and most recent 2020 start to win the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile by a nose on turf. He was second in a one-mile Grade 1 turf stakes here at 2 and a string of solid workouts since the Maker’s Mark Mile paint him as a major threat.
THE PICK: Starship Jubilee
LIVE LONGSHOT: Admiralty Pier