Woodbine Mile Quick Sheet: Get to Know the 2021 Woodbine Mile Horses

Raging Bull, March to the Arch, and Set Piece (left to right) are three of the main contenders in Saturday’s Woodbine Mile. (Eclipse Sportswire/Michael Burns-Woodbine/Coady Photography)

Saturday’s $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes at Woodbine is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” qualifying race for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF. It offers the winner a fees-paid berth to the FanDuel Mile on Nov. 6 at Del Mar and is one of the most prestigious turf races in North America in its own right, often bringing together some of the best middle-distance grass runners in training. 

First held in 1988 and moved to turf and to its current distance in 1997, the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile has been won by star racehorses such as Dance Smartly, Skip Away, Leroidesanimaux, Shakespeare, Wise Dan (twice), Tepin, and World Approval. This year’s renewal will be televised on NBCSN during a one-hour show starting at 5:30 p.m. ET. Post time is scheduled for 6:12 p.m. ET.

Also on Saturday, America’s Best Racing presents a “Breeders’ Cup LIVE!” show covering the Ricoh Woodbine Mile as well as other stakes races. This show will be hosted by Dan TordjmanJessica Paquette, Mike Somich, and J.D. Fox. “Breeders’ Cup LIVE!” will be live streamed on ABR’s Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube page

Read on for information about all of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile horses.

Michael Burns/Woodbine

1. Town Cruise (20-1 morning-line odds)

Jockey: Daisuke Fukumoto

Trainer: Brandon Greer

Owner: Brandon Greer

Career record: 13 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $225,926

Earnings per start: $17,379

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109

Pedigree: Town Prize – Candy Cruise, by Candy Ride

Color: Chestnut

Age: 6

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Town Cruise may be outclassed by most of his Woodbine Mile rivals when it comes to prior stakes-race experience, but he has an edge over all of them in one important area: early speed. He’s the only front-runner entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 race, and the form displayed in his recent races give him a chance to at least hit the board, if not pull off an upset win. After racing mainly in allowance-optional claiming races through his first dozen starts – all either on Woodbine’s turf or its all-weather main track – Town Cruise made his stakes debut in the one-mile, Grade 2 King Edward Stakes on Aug. 15 and set an unchallenged pace to open up a clear lead in early stretch. He kept on after being passed with a sixteenth of a mile to go by winner Olympic Runner and held second by a head over March to the Arch, with Avie’s Flatter another neck back in fourth. Those three horses will all be back for the Woodbine Mile along with top-class shippers Raging Bull and Set Piece, plus a couple of European contenders. It’s a tougher assignment for Town Cruise, but he won two consecutive allowance-optional claiming races going 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine turf in June and July prior to the King Edward and did so in gate-to-wire fashion with triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures. “Lone speed is always dangerous,” so they say, and Town Cruise should put that axiom to the test when he breaks from the inside post in Saturday’s marquee Grade 1.

Michael Burns/Woodbine

2. Olympic Runner (10-1)

Jockey: Rafael Hernandez

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Gary Barber

Career record: 23 starts – 5 wins – 7 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $419,450

Earnings per start: $18,237

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 114

Pedigree: Gio Ponti – Nadadora, by Carson City

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This gelded son of champion Gio Ponti comes into the Woodbine Mile off of two very good efforts on this turf course, where he finished a fast-closing second by a neck to Avie’s Flatter in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes on July 18 and then won the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths on Aug. 15. Those two starts marked a big improvement for Olympic Runner after he finished off the board in his three prior races at Fair Grounds and Belmont Park, and shipping back to Toronto probably had something to do with it as most of the best races over his career have come on Woodbine’s synthetic main track or on its turf course. If Olympic Runner maintains his current form, he has a good shot to win his first Grade 1 Saturday, and sitting a bit closer to the lead than normal, as he did in the King Edward, could enhance his chances even more. Mark Casse, who built his operation into a perennial wins leader at Woodbine (12 career meet titles), won the 2016 Woodbine Mile with Tepin and the 2017 renewal with World Approval, both champions. Jockey Rafael Hernandez won his first riding title at Woodbine in 2020 after finishing second in 2018 and 2019. He’s yet to win the Woodbine Mile and finished third last year aboard War of Will. Gary Barber co-owned 2006 Woodbine Mile winner Becrux with Team Valor.

Michael Burns/Woodbine

3. March to the Arch (8-1)

Jockey: Patrick Husbands

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Live Oak Plantation

Career record: 28 starts – 8 wins – 4 seconds – 4 thirds

Career earnings: $935,642

Earnings per start: $33,416

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118

Pedigree: Arch – Daveron, by Black Sam Bellamy

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This veteran gelding is a must-use contender in Woodbine Mile exacta and trifecta tickets and is certainly capable of winning the race with his best effort. He’s never been able to put together a string of wins, however, and that makes him tough to wholeheartedly endorse as he often comes up short at low odds. This year, March to the Arch did not make his first start until July 1 where he ran second to Mighty Heart in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes on Woodbine’s synthetic main track. He then won his sixth stakes race in his next start, taking the black-type Niagara Stakes by a dominant 4 ½ lengths on July 25 at about the same distance, but on turf. In his most recent start, March to the Arch closed late but could only muster third as the 7-5 favorite in the one-mile, Grade 2 King Edward Stakes behind Olympic Runner and pacesetting Town Cruise. He’s back for another try in the Woodbine Mile after finishing second to the filly Starship Jubilee last year, a race in which he got off to a slow start and made his customary late rally to lose by a length. He should be barreling through the stretch once again Saturday and, like most closers (including several others in this race), he’ll require a fast early pace and a clean trip in order to reach the winner’s circle. Canadian and U.S. Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse has won the Woodbine Mile twice, in back-to-back years with Tepin (2016) and World Approval (2017). Charlotte Weber’s Live Oak Plantation owned World Approval. Patrick Husbands, a seven-time meet-leading jockey at Woodbine, won the 2001 Woodbine Mile, then called the Atto Mile, on Numerous Times.

Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photo

4. Ride a Comet (5-1)

Jockey: Antonio Gallardo

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owners: John Oxley and My Meadowview Farm

Career record: 17 starts – 8 wins – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $578,084

Earnings per start: $34,005

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 117

Pedigree: Candy Ride – Appealing Zophie, by Successful Appeal

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Candy Ride horse has lost four starts in a row after going on a four-race winning streak during fall/winter 2020-21. He’s a second-tier win candidate for Saturday’s Woodbine Mile and would have to equal or exceed his career-best races and speed figures to score his first Grade 1. Ride a Comet has won both of his starts on Woodbine’s turf course, but those came during his 3-year-old season in 2018. He also won two races last winter on Woodbine’s synthetic main track, including the Grade 2 Kennedy Road Stakes. More recently, he finished second to Raging Bull in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile Stakes in April at Keeneland and third behind Set Piece in the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 26. Ride a Comet will be coming off of a nearly three-month layoff from that start in the Woodbine Mile and has been training well in the interim. He should be in the mix during the stretch run and is a logical trifecta filler, but other contenders in this race have shown faster finishing speed. Trainer Mark Casse has won nearly every major stakes race in Canada, where his stable was based for many years and he still has a large presence. His Woodbine Mile wins have come with Tepin in 2016 and World Approval in 2017.

Eclipse Sportswire

5. Set Piece (5-2)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Career record: 17 starts – 9 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $533,744

Earnings per start: $31,397

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 116

Pedigree: Dansili – Portodora, by Kingmambo

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Set Piece ships to Toronto as a leading win candidate for the Woodbine Mile, although like several other closers entered he’ll need a fast pace and some racing luck to set up his late kick. After a solid winter racing mainly on Turfway Park’s synthetic track, this British-bred gelding won three straight stakes races on Churchill Downs’ turf course with sustained, powerful rallies. His final of those three races was the most impressive, as he had to weave through a considerable amount of traffic in the stretch but still got up to edge graded stakes winner Somelikeithotbrown by a half-length in the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes (Ride a Comet finished third). After his Churchill success, Set Piece started in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 14 at Saratoga and once again closed late to check in second behind Got Stormy. He broke slow in the Fourstardave and had to go six-wide for his rally, but still ran well. If Set Piece takes to Woodbine’s unique turf course, he stands a good chance of securing his first Grade 1 victory Saturday. Reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox is in search of his first Woodbine Mile win, as is Joel Rosario, who rode Raging Bull to a third-place finish two years ago in his most recent appearance. Owner Juddmonte Farms campaigned 2009 Woodbine Mile winner Ventura, who was trained by the late Robert Frankel.

Adam Coglianese/NYRA

6. Change of Control (20-1)

Jockey: Colby Hernandez

Trainer: Michelle Lovell

Owner: Perry Harrison

Career record: 28 starts – 7 wins – 6 seconds – 6 thirds

Career earnings: $566,462

Earnings per start: $20,231

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106

Pedigree: Fed Biz – America’s Blossom, by Quiet American

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This longshot mare will have to run a career-best race to win the Woodbine Mile, but she’s consistent and her most recent race – and first start on Woodbine’s turf course – is encouraging. Change of Control was rolling late in the six-furlong, Grade 2 Royal North Stakes on Aug. 1 and came up a half-length short to finish third, marking the seventh time she’s hit the board in seven 2021 starts (those coming on six different turf courses with one on dirt). Prior to the Royal North, she posted a 1 ½-length win in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes at Belmont Park on June 3, her first career graded stakes win. Earlier this year, she also impressively won a listed turf sprint stakes at Keeneland on a yielding course. Change of Control has only raced at a one-mile distance twice, and those starts were the second and fourth of her career and on dirt, nearly three years ago. Change of Control’s best Equibase Speed Figures are also lower than several of her foes in the Woodbine Mile. Overall, though, she’s a very intriguing contender to use in exacta and trifecta tickets at what should be double-digit odds. Jockey Colby Hernandez, who rode Change of Control in his 2021 stakes wins at Keeneland and Belmont, makes his Woodbine debut Saturday.

Keeneland/Coady Photography

7. Raging Bull (2-1)

Jockey: Frankie Dettori

Trainer: Chad Brown

Owner: Peter Brant

Career record: 20 starts – 7 wins – 4 seconds – 3 thirds

Career earnings: $1,551,750

Earnings per start: $77,588

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 120

Pedigree: Dark Angel – Rosa Bonheur, by Mr. Greeley

Color: Bay

Age: 6

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Raging Bull is a good bet to be the post-time favorite in Saturday’s Woodbine Mile based on his overall career record, which includes three Grade 1 wins on three different turf courses. He has failed to get the job done in his two starts leading into this race, however, losing by a head to Oleksandra in the Grade 3 Poker Stakes at Belmont Park in early June as the 0.65-1 favorite and then turning in an underwhelming sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 14 at even-money odds. In last year’s Woodbine Mile – his only prior start on this course – he closed from 10th of 11 early and crossed the finish line fourth, but he was impeded by third-place finisher Lucullan in the stretch and switched spots with that foe after Lucullan was disqualified. This French-bred runner has bankrolled more than $1.5 million and has to be respected, but he’s definitely beatable and could be overbet. A big plus: the presence of leading international jockey Frankie Dettori. Dettori has won many of the most prestigious turf races around the world over the past 15 years, although he has yet to win the Woodbine Mile. Chad Brown, recognized as one of the best turf trainers in North America, is also seeking his first Woodbine Mile win.

Michael Burns/Woodbine

8. Avie’s Flatter (15-1)

Jockey: Luis Contreras

Trainer: Josie Carroll

Owner: Ivan Dalos

Career record: 16 starts – 6 wins – 3 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $787,209

Earnings per start: $49,201

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113

Pedigree: Flatter – Avie’s Empire, by Empire Maker

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Avie’s Flatter has compiled an impressive career record dating back to 2018, when he won three of four starts on both turf and synthetic surfaces at Woodbine and was voted champion 2-year-old male at the Sovereign Awards. He’s continued to amass accomplishments since then, hitting the board in all three legs of the Canadian Triple Crown in 2019 and, after going winless in three 2020 starts, coming back this year to win two of three races heading into Saturday’s Woodbine Mile. He’s also broken the triple-digit Equibase Speed Figure mark for the first time this year in all three starts, topped by a 113 figure earned when winning the Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes in July going seven furlongs on Woodbine’s turf. In his most recent start, he encountered some traffic trouble on the turn and hung in deep stretch but still finished a decent fourth, defeated by 1 ½ lengths, in the one-mile, Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine on Aug. 15. He’ll face the three horses that bested him – Olympic Runner, Town Cruise, and March to the Arch – again in the Woodbine Mile, and overall he fits in quite nicely with the rest of the contenders in what shapes up to be a wide-open race. He has shown a tendency to hang a bit in the late going, which is a concern, and since his juvenile campaign his best races have come at distances shorter than the mile he’ll travel Saturday. Jockey Luis Contreras, who has won three meet titles at Woodbine, is seeking his first Woodbine Mile victory.

9. Duke of Hazzard (15-1)

Jockey: Kazushi Kimura

Trainers: Paul Cole and Oliver Cole

Owner: Mrs. Fitri Hay

Career record: 27 starts – 5 wins – 4 seconds – 6 thirds

Career earnings: $414,589

Earnings per start: $15,355

Top Equibase Speed Figure: n/a

Pedigree: Lope de Vega – With Your Spirit, by Invincible Spirit

Color: Bay

Age: 5

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: French-bred, England-based Duke of Hazzard is one of two European invaders slated to compete in this year’s Woodbine Mile, and he enters the race winless in 12 starts since taking the Group 2 Ladbrokes Celebration Mile at Goodwood Racecourse in England back in August 2019. That win was his third in a row, establishing him as an up-and-coming miler, but he did not race again until June 2020 and came back with a 13th-place finish in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot. He’s raced mainly in Group 2 and Group 3 races since then with a couple of starts in handicaps, and his best efforts came earlier this year when third in two Group 3 stakes at Newmarket and York racecourses. He’ll have to do better than that in his first North American start to win against a tough field in the Woodbine Mile. Still, European-based horses have been competitive in recent editions (back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015) and his chances shouldn’t be entirely discounted, especially if he gets a firm course to race on Saturday. Fellow Woodbine Mile starter Space Traveller defeated him by 1 ¼ lengths in a listed stakes race at York on June 11, but Duke of Hazzard has kept better company through the course of his career. Young jockey Kazushi Kimura, who won the Sovereign Award as Canada's top apprentice rider in 2018, is currently leading the Woodbine jockey colony in wins with 69 through Sept. 15, 18 more than his nearest competitor. 

10. Space Traveller (12-1)

Jockey: Daniel Tudhope

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Owner: Clipper Logistics

Career record: 20 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $368,682

Earnings per start: $18,434

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112

Pedigree: Bated Breath – Sky Crystal, by Galileo

Color: Dark bay or brown

Age: 5

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: British-bred Space Traveller has made 18 of his 20 starts in Europe, with the two exceptions coming in the 2019 TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park, where he finished eighth, and in his most recent race, the Aug. 14 Mr. D. Stakes (formerly Arlington Million) at Arlington International Racecourse where he rallied in the stretch to check in a nonthreatening fourth at odds of 41.60-1. He’s mainly competed at the Group 2 and Group 3 level in Europe, tallying two stakes wins in 2019 and one earlier this year at York racecourse, where Woodbine Mile foe Duke of Hazzard finished third. There are a lot of closers lined up for this year’s Woodbine Mile, and most of them have shown better finishing ability than Space Traveller. As such, he profiles as a trifecta or superfecta filler at what should be hefty odds. Getting a turf course rated as firm or good will help his chances to hit the board.

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