Mondialiste spears through late in Woodbine Mile

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September 13th, 2015

Last after a half-mile, and with five lengths still to make up in midstretch, English shipper Mondialiste motored in the final yards, split foes, and got up in time in Sunday's $763,249 Woodbine Mile (G1), a "Win and You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1). On a big weekend of international racing memorable for inquiries in the St Leger (G1) and Irish Champion (G1), it was somehow fitting that there was one here too.  Eventual fifth-placer Reporting Star was tightened up in the course of Mondialiste's ferocious swoop, but the stewards made no change, and the best horse on the day prevailed.

Trainer David O'Meara had contemplated stepping Mondialiste up in trip after his late rally in the 1 1/8-mile Strensall (G3) at York, but chose the right spot here. As it happened, the Woodbine Mile ended up playing to his strengths. By unfolding as a searching test on rain-softened ground, it called for a bit more stamina than typical. Mondialiste certainly deployed a smart turn of foot to win, but at the end of Woodbine's long straight. It's open to interpretation whether a two-turn mile, such as the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland, would be as congenial.

Obviously sprinted to the fore, according to his longstanding custom, and winged through fractions of :23.21 and :46.63 -- which were plenty quick on the yielding course. Considering that he hadn't run since his fifth in last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, and the Southern Californian had never encountered a turf this soft in his whole career (not even in his native Ireland), Obviously was bound to tire. Reporting Star, the only rival who made an effort to pursue, cut the deficit at the six-furlong mark in 1:11.52. Although Obviously looked vulnerable at the top of the lane, he fought on tenaciously, and still clung to the lead in midstretch.

By that point, 2-1 favorite Lea, who had been well back in third, was finally gaining. Gradually creeping closer, and at last edging past, his white face appeared on the verge of success.

Then Mondialiste arrived on the premises under a perfectly-timed ride by Fergal Lynch. The 7-2 third choice was committed to an inside path, and the seam was awaiting him as he burst through to deny Lea by a half-length. He negotiated the mile in 1:36.66 and returned $9.60 to win.

Obviously was a gallant third by a neck from Kaigun, with Reporting Star another neck away in fifth. The stewards' inquiry also took a look at whether Obviously contributed to Reporting Star's inconvenience late, without amending the result.

Mondialiste was extending his winning streak to three, having crushed the one-mile Pomfret Stakes at Pontefract July 26 prior to the Strensall.

The five-year-old son of Galileo was also completing a torrid weekend for his sire, who is also responsible for promoted St Leger winner Bondi Beach; Irish St Leger (G1) romper Order of St George; the top three in the Moyglare Stud (G1), led by Minding; and Juvenile (G3) scorer Johannes Vermeer.

Out of multiple Group 1 queen Occupandiste, a descendant of Broodmare of the Year Fall Aspen, Mondialiste is a three-quarter brother to French Derby (G1) hero Intello, another by Galileo. He is himself a half to Intello's dam, Group 2 winner and classic-placed Impressionante; a full brother to Group 3-placed stakes victor Planetaire; and a half to multiple Group 3-winning sprinter Only Answer.

Here's an excerpt from what I wrote in last Sunday's blog on the Woodbine Mile internationals:

Mondialiste was originally campaigned by his breeders, Wertheimer et Frere, and trained by Freddie Head. Although third in the 2013 Prix Jean Prat (G1) while still a maiden, the blueblood didn't progress from there and was sold at last summer's Arqana July for $259,464.

His new owners [Geoff and Sandra Turnbull] transferred him to David O'Meara, who is emerging as a wonder worker with once-promising types fallen on hard times. The best advertisement of his skill this season is Amazing Maria...

Mondialiste hasn't reached that level of turnaround just yet, but he too is in the form of his life for his new trainer. Reappearing in the March 28 Lincoln, a heritage handicap that traditionally marks the beginning of the British Flat racing season, he came within a neck of springing a 25-1 upset. Mondialiste then stepped up in class for the Earl of Sefton (G3), finishing third, and filled that same spot in the Paradise at Ascot. After a midfield result (14th of 30) under 135 pounds in another big handicap, the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot (where he raced on the "wrong," i.e. unfavorable, side), he's been a different animal. 

After the Woodbine Mile, Mondialiste definitely qualifies as another O'Meara poster boy.


Quotes from Woodbine

Winning rider Fergal Lynch: "I got a little bit far back early. I was a little bit concerned as how far back we were. We saved a lot of ground. We stuck to the plan to come late. It was going to be a long run down the stretch. We just took our time and the horse had an awesome turn of foot. He just really galloped over top of them. It made my job easy. I was expecting it (the turn of foot). I knew the leaders would come back. It’s the longest stretch in Canada.  We have the turf horses in England that have got a turn of foot and can actually see out these trips really well."

Winning trainer David O'Meara: "He is very tough. You can ride him whatever way you want really. He’s always sort of there for you when you go for it. He always finishes well. Everything sort of looked good with him, but it is always a concern when you fly him that far from home, like eight hours or whatever we’ve come. But fantastic, a great run."

Jockey Joel Rosario, runner-up Lea: "I had a good trip. Turning for home, I could see the horse on the lead (Obviously) and for a second, I knew I had him, but the winner came on strong. It was a real close finish at the end.  He really handled the turf well and put in a very good run today. It's too bad the other horse came with such a strong run."

Trainer Phil D'Amato, third-placer Obviously: "He tried. He had everything going against him here with the soft turf course. He gutted it out and gave it his all. I think this sets him up really nice for the Breeders' Cup Mile. That's his game (quick fractions). He's going to go. He'll go as fast as he can go, for as far as he can go. For the first time out in 10 months in a Grade 1, $1-million race, on a surface he's never run on, I think this was a big effort on his part."

Photo courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns via Twitter.