The Grade 2 $200,000 King Edward Stakes is a one-mile, Grade 2 turf feature at Woodbine for 3-year-olds and older that has long attracted the best horses in the division racing in Canada. It comes as no surprise that this year’s edition drew an outstanding 11-horse field.
KING EDWARD STAKES
1. Pao Alto (6-1 morning-line odds): Group 2 winner at this one-mile distance in 2022 has yet to find similar success in six North American starts so far and is still looking for his first win since coming to the barn of Graham Motion last year. Has kept good company in many of the recent starts when losing against better horses and ran speed figures that stack up favorably against much of this field. Returned from nearly a six-month layoff last time to just miss by a nose of winning the $100,000 Prince George’s County Stakes at Laurel Park. Appears to be ready for a breakthrough. It’s apparent that one mile is his favorite distance and if you can forgive the recent losses as longer distance experiments gone bad, then Pao Alto starts to look like a horse with a lot of upside if he is allowed to concentrate at a mile.
2. Town Cruise (8-1): Exits a Woodbine allowance-optional claiming win by a head in his last start, finally getting back to the winner’s circle for the first time since September 2021 when this horse was a Grade 1 winner of the prestigious Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Finished fifth in this race last year and then could not replicate his success in the 2022 Woodbine Mile when fifth. Toss out a pair of synthetic surface losses, and the turf win last time out represents a good harbinger that this horse may be ready for a return to best form. Dangerous, so don’t overlook.
3. The Minkster (20-1): Won his career debut going six furlongs on the turf and has not been back on the grass since. Has some decent synthetic track efforts showing in the past performances and got a six-furlong prep race under his belt last time out in return from an eight-month layoff. Seems to be sitting on an improved effort, but this might not be the right kind of spot for him to strut his best stuff.
4. Dancin In Da’nile (30-1): Woodbine turf runner is good for a nice effort and a win every once in a while when facing much more modest competition but loses to softer company more often than not and has not shown an indication that he can handle this kind of class hike with any degree of success.
5. War Bomber (8-1): Six-time winner in his career owns three synthetic wins and three turf victories and exits a solid second-place finish last time in a similar kind of spot going shorter in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Connaught Cup Stakes Presented by Bulleit Bourbon here at Woodbine on July 23. Has shown the ability to win at a variety of middle distances and is a graded stakes winner earlier in his career, so he has the distance and class to be able to compete in this spot based on his best efforts.
6. Shirl’s Speight (3-1): At his best, Shirl’s Speight is a high-quality turf runner that can compete at the highest levels, such as his win in the April 2022 Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland and his runner-up finish in the 2022 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF, which was also at Keeneland last year. The downside is that he doesn’t always show up with that kind of an “A” performance and he flopped in two graded stakes tries on the Woodbine turf last year when he ran off the board in both the Grade 2 Connaught Cup and in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. Since his big second-place finish in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup, he’s been around the world and back after Group 1 losses in Japan and Dubai. While there’s no shame in losing those kinds of races to world-class horses, he’s back from globetrotting after nearly a five-month layoff on a course where he really didn’t do his best running last year. His odds will be low, and today could be a good opportunity to bet against the favorite.
7. Treason (7-2): Has been in mostly good form on synthetic surfaces dating back to last fall with two wins and a second in his four most recent races, with the runner-up finish coming last time out in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes in which he lost by just 1 ½ lengths to the red-hot Tyson at 1 1/8 miles. The question today is whether or not he’s as good on the turf as he is on the Woodbine main track, and while that is possible, he is going to have to step up his game above what he was able to do on the grass earlier in his career. Woodbine’s leading rider Kazushi Kimura keeps the mount.
8. Conglomerate (15-1): The first of two entrants trained by Mark Casse, who has won this race the last three years with three different horses. Has been mostly a synthetic track performer throughout his career and owns an 0-for-6 record on the turf. Exits a decent turf effort for second, but it was against far weaker competition, and he doesn’t look up to the task at competing at this level. Javier Castellano is named aboard for the mount, however, and the high-profile connections should be enough to ensure this horse gets bet down from its 15-1 morning-line odds.
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9. Lucky Score (4-1): Mark Casse has won this race three consecutive years. Lucky Score seems much more like a sprinter than a miler and he might have a tough time excelling at this distance. On the plus side, Lucky Score has, in fact, been in excellent form in his recent races, which included a win in the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes at six furlongs at Woodbine two races ago and a third-place finish last time out at seven furlongs in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup where he was full of run in the stretch. Could a successful stretch-out be in the making? It’s certainly possible, but he’s going to need to show a totally new dimension and the odds on the tote board probably will not offer any value.
10. Bode’s Tipsy (30-1): Most recent win came in 2021. Winless in the four more recent outings, which all came at lower class levels. This seems like a tough assignment.
11. Haddassah (20-1): Attempted this race last year and finished a respectable third. Best career finish was a win in the Prince of Wales Stakes in the second leg of the 2022 Canadian Triple Crown, but that race was on the dirt. Effective on a variety of racing surfaces but has been losing to lesser horses in the recent races and will need to show a lot of improvement to be able to hit the board vs. these.
THE PICK: Pao Alto
LIVE LONGSHOT: Town Cruise