Sunday, September 19, 2010

Woodbine Mile: Selections for the Guaranteed $100K Late Pick Four

The Woodbine Mile weekend has become my second favourite day of the Woodbine meet behind the Canadian International. Both events draw established turf stars from across the continent and overseas and the 2010 edition of Woodbine Mile day features three excellent turf tilts: the G2 Canadian, the G1 Northern Dancer and the G1 Woodbine Mile.

Ventura won the 2009 Woodbine Mile

In terms of wagering, there's plenty to know about Woodbine's E.P. Taylor turf course. For one, the turf is the outer ring of the Rexdale oval and an expansive mile and a half in length. It's such a large turf course that the Mile will be a one turn race. The turns on the turf course are quite wide and if your horse is in front heading into the stretch, there's another 1,440 feet to get the job done. Patience is the key for jockeys making their move on the Woodbine turf.

Stretch runs by comparison (info provided by DRF Track Info):

Woodbine turf stretch - 1440 ft
Belmont stretch - 1,097 Feet.
Santa Anita - 990 feet
Del Mar - 919 feet.
Saratoga - 1,144 feet.
Arlington - 1,049 feet.

Woodbine Entertainment Group is offering a $100K late pick four (Races 8 - 11) which covers both the Northern Dancer (R8) and the Woodbine Mile (R10). Check out the current odds at HorsePlayerInteractive.

Before outlining my selections for the Pick Four, there is a horse I'm excited about in the G2 Canadian which is the fourth race (2:30PM EST) on the strong Woodbine card. The Canadian is a nine furlong turf test featuring six fillies and mares including Canada's champion turf mare Points of Grace who was fourth in this event last year. Also in the mix are Roger Attfield's Miss Keller, Mark Frostad's Magic Broomstick and David Wachman's Irish invader Latin Love.

The lovely Points of Grace will be looking over her shoulder for Latin Love

It is the latter horse, Latin Love, that's set my heart aflutter. The Danehill Dancer filly is from the strong Danehill line. Champs Elysees, Canada's 2009 Horse of the Year is a Danehill. A quick peak at the past performances shows that Latin Love bested Miss Keller at the Curragh last year and will enjoy the benefit of Lasix for the first time. The Wachman pupil won at nine furlongs last out while carrying 136lbs. She will carry just 113 on Sunday along with jockey Garret Gomez who partnered Champs Elysees last season to a huge win in the Canadian International.

The play: Straight win wager on Latin Love and use as key in early pick four and on top of an exactor over Miss Keller.

It's a lot riding on one horse but if the paddock appearance is pleasing, there's no reason not to enjoy. Sadly, I doubt the 6-1 morning line holds.

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The guaranteed $100K late pick four starts with a bang as Marsh Side looks to defend his Northern Dancer title in a strong nine horse field. Only Marsh Side, Expansion, Redwood, Perfect Shower and Spice Route have won at the mile and a half distance and I'll be selecting a winner from that group.

Marsh Side is the horse to beat

Marsh Side romped at Woodbine in the Sky Classic last out and absolutely loves this turf course with three wins and a second in eight starts. He has three wins and a second at this distance and gets the services of Edgar Prado.

Expansion chased home Gio Ponti in a pair of turf events at Belmont before a tough trip last out at Saratoga when fifth in the Sword Dancer, beaten just four lengths. Al Khali, third in the Sword Dancer, recently won the Bowling Green at Belmont. Late rallying type has experienced plenty of traffic trouble but might enjoy the long, and wide, Woodbine stretch run. Gomez gets the call.

Redwood arrives off a second place finish in the Prix de Deauville in France where he carried 129lbs - ten more than he'll boast on Sunday. The High Chaparral gelding is a regular in Group competition for Juddmonte Farms and has three wins in nine lifetime starts.

Can Spice Route win the Northern Dancer? No Sweat!

Spice Route has not raced since July 4th. Trainer Roger Attfield has been keeping the King's Best fellow busy with a steady string of works and will be looking forward to a return to a Woodbine turf where he has three wins, two seconds and earnings of nearly $600K in just eight starts. Mike Smith partnered Spice Route to a confident win in the G3 Singspiel last out and he retains the mount.


1. Spice Route
2. Expansion
3. Marsh Side
4. Redwood.

Those four are so strong that it's hard to single the first leg of the P4. Pick your best two and hope to get lucky. If you're playing superfecta's keep an eye on Ian Black's Fifty Proof who drops a lot of weight (124lbs down to 117lbs), has won at ten furlongs and sports a spectacular workout tab. The conditioner has a solid turf standing (.17) and has a knack for winning when the money is on the line.

Race 9 - A N1X Route with mixed company.

Summanus is a Kentucky-bred who romped in his only start after a slow start.

Thunder Ball, a Stronach Stable gelding trained by Reade Baker, showed strongly last out on turf after freshening and bulleted a sharp five furlongs in prep.

Others to consider are Shellback, an expensive purchase, with indifferent form at PHA; Lady's First Cat and Free to Fly.


1. Summanus - I hope he's a freak as I need to key somewhere in this P4.

Race 10 - G1 Woodbine Mile

Crowded House might have won the Pac Classic had he not moved so early. The four year-old Rainbow Quest colt is one for one at the distance, and was closing far too late when he met The Usual Q.T and Victor's Cry in the Eddie Read at Del Mar. If the timing is right, Joel Rosario might take advantage of the long stretch and pass both those foes.

Court Vision has not raced since June 5th when sixth in the G1 Manhattan at Belmont. In his three other 2010 starts he recorded a win (through DQ) and two seconds in a trio of G1 races. The classy five year-old always races at the top level and it was in the late fall last year that this guy won the Shadwell Turf Mile before a fourth place finish, beaten less than two lengths, by the brilliant Goldikova in the BC Mile. All class. But is he ready?

Smokey Fire is the local horse for course. With two wins and three seconds in five Woodbine turf starts, the Sid Attard trainee keeps getting better and better. He's never travelled a mile but won with a late bid at seven furlongs last out. Jockey Jono Jones is considered one of the best turf riders in the country.

The handsome Smokey Fire

The Usual Q.T is five for five at the distance and regular rider Victor Espinoza will once again be aboard. The fact that he can win at longer distances proves he has stamina for the stretch run but how will he handle the tricky turns and softer surface?

Famous Name arrives from four straight races at Leopardstown in Ireland of which he won three. The most recent effort was a loss in a very tough race won by Cape Blanco. Stars such as Rip Van Winkle, Twice Over and Beethoven beat Famous Name to the wire and there's no shame in that. Jockey Pat Smullen travels over the pond for the ride and he's already helped his horse to five wins, a second and a third in seven starts at the mile distance.

Grand Adventure is used to winning at Woodbine

Grand Adventure drew the unlucky #13 post and jockey Patrick Husbands will have to work a bit harder than he'd have liked to find position in a race where much of the speed is outside to start. The four year-old Grand Slam colt is having the best year of his life and earned a sensational 105 Beyer when winning the G2 King Edward. He has five wins over this course including two at the distance. You can throw out his last race over a difficult yielding turf that was further than the horse wants to go.


1. Famous Name
2. Court Vision
3. Crowded House
4. Smokey Fire

I'm a little biased to the European runners given my own Irish breeding but Famous Name has excellent Racing Post Ratings and is proven at this distance. If he travels well and shows nicely in the paddock, I will once again rue not getting the advertised 6-1 morning line.

Race Ten - A mile and a sixteenth for maiden Ontario-breds.

It doesn't seem fair that the P4 ends on a maiden event but that's what helps keep the payouts huge. There is much to dislike about many in this field. Only 3 of the 15 horses (only 14 will race) have earned a 70+ Beyer and many of those seem incapable of reaching that number on Sunday.

Molinaro Padrino was moved up when Wookinwicked was DQ'd last out. He has three seconds and a third at this distance.

Oilton is 12-1 on the morning line and the Mark Casse trainee will be nowhere near that by post time. His lone start at the distance was a second place finish at this same level and he lost by a nose. Corey Fraser rides and that trainer/jock combo is a popular play.

Cojac is 15-1 on the morning line. Not a chance that lasts either. Ron Gierkink notes in the DRF, "Cojac could prevail as an overlay in this wide-open event. He raced four-wide over an inside-favouring track to end up third for the second straight time Aug 29th." Jockey David Clark returns.

Final Clearance posted back-to-back 70+ Beyer numbers...on the turf. He returns to the poly where he was dismal in his lone attempt. Meh.

Wookinwicked won last out but was then DQ'd. Eurico Rosa da Silva rides for Sid Attard.


1. Cojac
2. Wookinwicked
3. Oilton
4. Final Clearance

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I will have a slew of photos and a recap of the Woodbine Mile weekend posted following Sunday's events. As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.


Susan said...

Good Post! I enjoy your Woodbine insights. Wish I was there!
Good luck in the Pick 4.

Steve Munday said...

Keith, thanks a great preview of today's racing action at Woodbine. I knew the turf course was huge but had no idea the stretch was longer than Belmont's - by quite a lot. For someone who rarely bets WO, your insights are much appreciated.

I'm with you on Latin Love and Famous Name; your right though, 6-1 appears to be wishful thinking.

Best of luck today.

Keith-TripleDeadHeat said...

Thanks for the kind comments...hope you both find a few winners today.

It's a gorgeous fall day here in Toronto. Sun is shining and I'll be taking plenty of pictures for tomorrow's post.