Multiple graded stakes winners World Approval, Mondialiste and Deauville headline a list of 26 horses nominated to the Grade 1 $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, to be held Saturday, September 16, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
The prestigious Ricoh Woodbine Mile, which offers Breeders’ Cup 'Win and You’re In' status, has drawn nominations from across North America and Europe.
Woodbine's leading trainer, Mark Casse, has two horses nominated for the one-turn mile over the world-famous E.P. Taylor Turf Course including multiple G1 winner World Approval and the improving G2 winner Conquest Panthera.
World Approval, a Live Oak Plantation homebred, has won three of four starts this campaign including a victory on ‘good’ turf in the G2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico. Last time out, World Approval surged to victory in the G1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on August 12 over a yielding turf.
“We were a little concerned because of the rain, but we looked at his race at Pimlico and the turf was softer that day and we figured it was okay,” said Casse. “His brother, Za Approval, didn't like soft turf at all, but it may have helped World Approval the other day at Saratoga.”
By Northern Afleet, World Approval is out of the exceptional dam Win Approval, who has produced such multiple Graded winners Revved Up, Miesque's Approval and Za Approval.
The well-related World Approval has proven his talents at a variety of distances, including a victory in the 1⅜-mile G1 United Nations last season at Monmouth Park. However, Casse believes the 5-year-old gelding may have found his true calling going a mile on the turf.
“He does seem to like a mile. He's the fourth Grade 1 winner out of the mare and they just get better with age,” said Casse. “Mrs. Weber (owner of Live Oak Plantation) is a big believer in giving her horses time, and every time we've given him a little rest he's come back bigger and stronger. Right now, he thinks he can beat anybody.”
Mondialiste, trained by David O'Meara for owners Geoff and Sandra Turnbull, is expected to return to Canada for the first time since taking the 2015 edition of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile. The now 7-year-old son of Galileo captured the 2016 running of the G1 Arlington Million and was narrowly defeated earlier this season in the G2 York Stakes.
Deauville, a millionaire son of Galileo trained by Aidan O'Brien, is a four-time winner. He made his presence known in North America with a thrilling neck score in the G1 Belmont Derby in 2016. The consistent 4-year-old captured the G3 Huxley Stakes at Chester in May and most recently was a strong third, defeated less than a length, in the Arlington Million won by Beach Patrol.
Lightning Spear, a multiple G2 winner for trainer David Simcock and owner Qatar Racing Limited, is in excellent form after defending his title in the G2 Celebration Mile at Goodwood last Saturday. The 6-year-old Pivotal chestnut is multiple G1 placed, including a strong third in the Sussex at Goodwood on August 2.
Leading the charge for the home team are Canadian-breds Heart To Heart and Tower Of Texas.
Heart To Heart, bred in Ontario by Red Hawk Ranch, is a winner of 12 of 29 starts for trainer Brian Lynch and owner Terry Hamilton. The 6-year-old English Channel bay with the distinctive heart-shaped blaze is multiple G1 placed, including a neck defeat to American Patriot in the Makers 46 Mile on April 14 at Keeneland.
Tower Of Texas, bred in Ontario by Anderson Farms Inc. and Rod Ferguson, is a five-time winner for owners Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth. Trained by Roger Attfield, the popular Street Sense bay captured the G2 Connaught Cup by a nose earlier in the meet and was a half-length away from upsetting Tepin in the 2016 edition of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
The lucrative card on Saturday, September 16, also features the G1 $300,000 Northern Dancer Stakes, the G2 $300,000 Canadian Stakes and the G3 $125,000 Bold Venture Stakes.
In addition, the card at Woodbine the next day (Sunday, September 17) includes two Breeders’ Cup 'Win and You’re In' races for 2-year-olds, highlighted by the $250,000 G1 Natalma Stakes for fillies and the $200,000 G2 Summer Stakes, both to be contested at one mile on the grass.
Last year, the 'Queen of the Turf' Tepin captured the Ricoh Woodbine Mile en route to Eclipse Award honours as Champion Grass Mare. The 2017 edition of the Mile will be televised live on TSN2.
*Twenty-eight 2-year-old fillies have been nominated to the Natalma Stakes and an additional 45 juveniles have been nominated to the Summer Stakes.
For a full listing of nominees for the September 16/17 Breeders' Cup 'Win and You're In' weekend, complete with past performances, click into Woodbine’s Thoroughbred resources page: