British challenger Mondialiste has settled in nicely on his second trip to Canada ahead of his bid to repeat his 2015 triumph in tomorrow's Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Rather than train on the turf earlier this morning, trainer David O’Meara decided a move over the Tapeta would better suit Geoff and Sandra Turnbull's 7-year-old son of Galileo.
“I thought the turf was quite quick this morning," O'Meara said on Thursday. "Although he’ll run on it on Saturday, he doesn’t need to train on it. He trains on Tapeta a lot at home anyway. He just did a nice, swinging canter from the half-mile pole. He looks good.”
Mondialiste, also winner of last season's Arlington Million, is listed at 8/1 on the morning line coming off a flat sixth in the G3 Strensall Stakes at York. However, O’Meara points to the bay’s strong second, defeated just a nose, in the G2 Sky Bet York Stakes as a better measure of form.
“His run before last at York would have been as good as anything he’s produced in Europe,” said O’Meara. “Last time out, it was a very muddling gallop. They went quite steady.
“Back here at Woodbine, with the turns I think he’ll show his true self.”
Jose Ortiz will pilot Mondialiste for the first time in Saturday’s ‘Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In’ Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Arod settling in
Qatar Racing Ltd’s Arod will look to improve on last year’s fifth in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile when he bursts from the gate for the first time under the tutelage of trainer David Simcock.
The 6-year-old Teofilo bay was in the care of Peter Chapple-Hyam when a prominent fifth behind a victorious Tepin in the 2016 Mile. Arod then spent time in Australia under the care of Chris Waller, managing a pair of seconds in six starts.
Travelling head lad Ian Russell is overseeing Arod’s second visit to Canada. “I think day two is really good for him," he said on Thursday. "Yesterday he was a little bit keen, but with new surroundings it’s something you’d expect. Today, he was much more relaxed and got into a really nice stride during his canter work. We’re very happy with him.”
Russell believes the fast ground at Woodbine should suit Arod.
“I walked the straight yesterday afternoon. There’s a great covering of grass. You can tell it’s always well looked after here. With the good weather we’re having, it’s nice there’s a little bit of cushion to it,” said Russell.
Jockey Harry Bentley, making his first trip to Canada, will be charged with engineering a stalking trip.
“I think if we can get him to settle and just take the race in his stride, we’ll probably just be patient with him and let everyone else do the work at the front,” said Russell. “Hopefully, with a bit of luck, he’ll pick them off one by one.”
Hawkbill set for the Northern Dancer
Hawkbill, a Godolphin G1 winner based in England, looms as the horse to beat in a field of eight for Sunday’s Northern Dancer Stakes, a second G1 feature on the Ricoh Woodbine Mile card.
The $300,000 Northern Dancer, a 1½-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, is the major local prep for the G1 $800,000 Pattison Canadian International over the same course and distance on October 15.
Assuming all goes well on Saturday, Hawkbill will be staying for that race. “That’s been the plan,” said Sophie Chretien, head traveling lass for trainer Charlie Appleby.
The Kentucky-bred 4-year-old's last five starts have come at 1½ miles and include victories in the G2 Princess of Wales’s at Newmarket on good going and the G3 Aston Park on soft ground at Newbury.
In his last start, Hawkbill was beaten a length as the runner-up in the G1 Grosser Preis Von Berlin at Hoppegarten. Dschingis Secret, the winner there, came back to capture the G2 Prix Foy at Longchamp and is now a leading fancy for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly two weeks on Sunday.
Chretien said of Hawkbill, “He goes every ground, but his best ground is very soft to soft. Fast ground is not going to help him but he’s a classy horse. He likes to go on front. But mainly, he likes to be in his rhythm. He’ll settle in behind.”
Fitting Canadian debut for Quidura
The consistent European-bred filly Quidura will make her Canadian debut in the $250,000 G2 Canadian Stakes featured on the Ricoh Woodbine Mile undercard tomorrow. The turf event for fillies and mares three and older will be contested over about a mile and an eighth.
Owned by Gestuet Faehrhof, Quidura has never missed the board in five North American starts for trainer Graham Motion.
She ended the 2016 season with back-to-back wins including the G3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes at Keeneland. This year, she finished third in the G1 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland followed by runner-up finishes in the G2 New York Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets at Belmont and the G1 Diana Stakes, in which she was collared by star filly Lady Eli after leading most of the nine furlongs on the Saratoga turf.
“She’s run up against some pretty solid competition,” said Motion. “It was kind of an odd race in the Diana, when she ended up on the lead. That wasn’t necessarily the plan, but she almost pulled it off. She got a break in the weights that day against Lady Eli.”
A Pick-5 first on Woodbine Mile card
An innovative joint Pick-5 wager in partnership with the New York Racing Association will be offered on tomorrow's Ricoh Woodbine Mile card.
Featuring a horseplayer friendly 15 percent takeout and offering a $0.20 minimum entry point, the cross-border Pick-5 will feature three turf stakes from Woodbine and two turf events from Belmont Park.
Race order for the Pick 5 sequence is as follows: Woodbine Race 8 - G2 Canadian Stakes (4:30pm ET), Belmont Race 7 - Allowance (4:41pm ET), Woodbine Race 10 - G1 Northern Dancer (5:34pm ET), Belmont Race 9 - G2 Sands Point (5:45pm ET), Woodbine Race 12 - G1 Woodbine Mile (6:34pm ET)
The Woodbine/NYRA Pick-5 will be available in Canada on HPIbet and on ADW platforms and select locations across the U.S.
THE RICOH WOODBINE MILE FIELD
David Simcock (GB)
Mrs Fitri Hay & Coolmore Partners
Aidan O’Brien (Ire)
Mrs. Patricia A. Generazio
Brent McLellan, Russell McLellan, Stuart C. Simon
Charlie Hills (GB)
Aidan O’Brien (Ire)
Long On Value
Wachtel Stable, George Kerr and Gary Barber
Geoff & Sandra Turnbull
David O'Meara (GB)
Tower Of Texas
Thomas F. Van Meter II & Scott Dilworth
Live Oak Plantation