Woodbine hosted three Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” races over the weekend starting with the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Million (G1) on Saturday afternoon, a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
This year’s Breeders’ Cup will be held at Del Mar on Nov. 5-6.
Town Cruise, an Ontario-bred son of Town Prize, came up with a million-dollar effort while netting his first stakes victory in Saturday’s $1,120,800 Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Trained by Woodbine-based Brandon Greer, who owns and co-bred (along with his father Terrance) the six-year-old gelding, Town Cruise took on the world and won one for the home team in a front-running tour de force over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
With the Ricoh Woodbine Mile part of the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ program, Town Cruise became eligible to run in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup FanDuel Mile at Del Mar on November 6.
Under Daisuke Fukumoto, Town Cruise broke sharply and took the lead after an early tussle with longshots Duke of Hazzard and Change of Control, guiding the 10-horse field, including 9-5 choice Set Piece and 7-2 second choice Raging Bull, through an opening quarter in :24.08.
The chestnut continued to show the way, holding a two-length advantage after a half timed in :47.10, and maintained that lead through three-quarters in 1:10.41.
Down the lane, Fukumoto and Town Cruise, still in front by two at Robert Geller’s stretch call, braced for any late challenges, but that scenario never materialized.
At the wire, Town Cruise was 2 ¼-lengths the best. Space Traveller rallied to finish second, Raging Bull was third, and March to the Arch was fourth. Set Piece, winner of the Grade 2 Wise Dan, was seventh.
Final time for the mile over good ground was 1:35.14.
Woodbine Mile Replay
Albahr Takes Summer Stakes
Albahr capped a perfect Woodbine weekend for trainer Charlie Appleby and the powerful Godolphin outfit when he romped to a 2 1/4-length victory in Sunday’s Grade 1 $404,400 Summer Stakes.
The Summer, as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In series, offers the winner an all-expenses paid berth for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar.
Albahr, part of a three-horse Godolphin contingent sent from England for the Woodbine Turf Festival weekend, followed Sunday’s Natalma Stakes winner Wild Beauty and Saturday’s Pattison Canadian International hero Walton Street in becoming Grade 1 winners.
Frankie Dettori rode the three Godolphin winners and also finished third aboard Raging Bull in the Woodbine Mile.
“That’s really what it’s all about, winning these big races around the world,” said assistant trainer Alex Merriam, while paying tribute to the Godolphin patriarch Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “So just like him it’s for Charlie and all the team. It’s been a great effort.”
Summer Stakes Won by Albahr
Beauty of Win in Natalma
Wild Beauty, under Frankie Dettori, punched her ticket to the Breeders’ Cup with an impressive win in Sunday’s Grade 1 $401,600 Natalma Stakes at Woodbine.
A victory in the one-mile turf race for rookie fillies earned the British-bred a fees-paid berth in the Grade 1 $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, which will be run at Del Mar this year on November 5.
Wild Beauty, owned and bred by Godolphin, arrived at the Natalma off a pair of runner-up performances in England, and was the 7-5 choice in the field of 10.
The start was less than ideal for the daughter of Frankel, but the finish was certainly pleasing for her connections.
Wild Beauty hopped coming out of the gate, was squeezed and then shuffled back to last as Cardio Princess took the lead, with 69-1 Guileful and 13-1 Ready Lady dueling in behind the pacesetter. Royal Engagement sat fourth and Pizza Bianca, second choice at 3-1, was fifth after a quarter in :23.35.
It was status quo for the top five through a half timed in :47.03, as Dettori and Wild Beauty began to make headway, moving into seventh spot.
When the field rounded the turn for the long stretch drive, Wild Beauty was full of run on the outside, methodically picking off her rivals, one by one.
At the stretch call, the Charlie Appleby trainee was 1 ½-lengths clear and rolling. By mid-stretch, she was firing on all cylinders, going on to notch a 2 ¼-length victory in a time of 1:35.08 over good going.
Pizza Bianca held for second, besting a late-charging Eminent Victor by 1 ¼-lengths, while Lady Barbara rallied stoutly to finish fourth.
Wild Beauty, now a winner of three of six starts, returned $4.90.