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Homeracing

Horses to consider, look past on Woodbine Mile Day

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

September 11th, 2015

Running big races up against the first week of NFL games isn't easy, which is one reason we can thank our friends to the north in Canada, at Woodbine specifically, for filling the void occurring in the U.S. on Sunday.

The C$1 million Woodbine Mile (G1), historically, is as significant a Breeders' Cup prep as you'll find anywhere, while the C$300,000 Northern Dancer Turf (G1) and C$300,000 Canadian (G2) are strong lead-ins to next month's Canadian International (G1) and E.P. Taylor (G1).

Here are some random observations on the three features.

WOODBINE MILE

Wise Dan's late withdrawal and retirement, while certainly disappointing, has hardly left the cupboard bare. Obviously, obviously, is the one to catch from post 1, but he hasn't raced outside Southern California since his importation from Europe and must overcome the effects of a layoff approaching 10 1/2 months. His very best form can win this, perhaps comfortably, but there are significant hurdles.

Lea's effort in the Whitney (G1) was very much below par, but he also hasn't really lived up to expectations this year on the main track. This return to turf, a surface over which he's done well but is hardly star class, seems more of a reactive move to the regression he's displayed recently on the main track.

Grand Arch has shown a strong liking for this course in the past, but was only fifth in the Woodbine Mile last year and enters off a nice yet hard-fought victory over Ironicus in the Fourstardave H. (G2) at Saratoga. He's never won back-to-back races in his life except via disqualification early in his career. In other words, he seems susceptible to bouncing here.

Kaigun, runner-up by a half-length in the 2014 Mile, encountered a little trouble at the start of the Play the King (G2) last time and found himself farther off the pace than usual. However, despite having a very fast pace to chase, he was still five lengths back at the finish. One would have expected a stronger performance second off the layoff. Judging from his modest fourth in the Arcadia (G2) to start the year, we're probably not seeing the same horse as we were 12 months ago.

Reporting Star ran in the Northern Dancer Turf on this card a year ago, but has seemingly transformed himself from a pacesetter in longer events to an effective stalking sprinter-miler. That was good news in the seven-furlong Play the King which he won by a nose, and might be equally good here with Obviously probably ripping off fast splits.

Of the two European entries, Mr. Owen has the most room for progression. The France-based colt was a solid third behind Make Believe and New Bay in the French 2000 Guineas (G1) in May, bombed in the Prix Jean Prat (G1), and recently rebounded with a Listed score at Deauville. He gets in with a feathery 112-pound impost, and if you're a strong believer in family ties it's worth noting his dam, Mrs. Lindsay, captured the E.P. Taylor during her racing days.

NORTHERN DANCER TURF

Lucky Speed effectively used the nine-furlong Nijinsky (G2) at Woodbine in July as a rust-shaking prep for last month's American St Leger (G3) at Arlington, which he won by three parts of a length over a very determined Panama Hat. The former Germany Derby (G1) hero looks best on paper, but the finish line comes up three-sixteenths of a mile quicker this time.

Unlike Lucky Speed, who got firm ground at Arlington, Triple Threat had to go out a little while later and run in the Arlington Million (G1) after a deluge of rain had softened the course. Judging from his complete non-effort there and in similar conditions overseas, he apparently detests that kind of going. He's very much a rebound candidate here, although he's rarely raced beyond 1 1/4 miles.

Of the local contingent, Aldous Snow seems to like this 1 1/2-mile trip as a two-time winner of the Singspiel (G3). Last year's Breeders' winner Ami's Holiday might be sharper second off the layoff, while this year's scorer in the third Canadian classic, Danish Dynaformer, needs to improve several lengths.

CANADIAN

With the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at a shortened 1 3/16 miles this year due to Keeneland's configuration, this race might have more impact on that race than usual.

Strut the Course, on the basis of her course-and-distance win in the Dance Smartly (G2) over subsequent Beverly D. (G1) winner Watsdachances, is the one to beat. Overheard also possesses a strong mark of 5-3-1-1 on the local sod, but the Graham Motion-trained Hoop of Colour looks very intriguing.

Although she was sidelined following her victory in the March 15 Santa Ana (G2), Hoop of Colour did win off a seven-month spell in February and has won four of six overall. She's a half-sister to Aruna, a multiple graded stakes winner on turf and synthetic.

Personal Diary could have used more running room in the stretch run of the John C. Mabee (G2) last time. Perhaps she'll have more luck here, but then again she always seems to peak at Del Mar and not elsewhere.

TwinSpires.com is offering players a chance to compete for 3 Million TSC Elite Points across these three popular multi-race pools -- 1 Million in each Pick 4 pool and 1 Million in the Pick 5 -- at Woodbine on Sunday. Complete details can be found at https://www.twinspires.com/sunday-play-3-million-points-woodbine-mile-day

(Hoop of Colour photo: Benoit Photos)

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