Charlie Appleby is once again hoping the road to Breeders’ Cup Mile success goes through Woodbine.
The trainer in charge of Godolphin’s England-based contingent successfully used last year’s Woodbine Mile as a Breeders’ Cup tuneup for Modern Games. Now he brings Master of The Seas to the $1 million race hoping to earn that automatic starting spot at Santa Anita in November.
The four-year-old Irish-bred son of Dubawi comes off a win in the Summer Mile at Ascot in mid-July. The six-time winner took a win in Dubai in January. His career highlight came last year when a very narrow second in the English 2000 Guineas. Appleby sees similarities between Master of The Seas and Modern Games.
“Both are strong travellers and milers with a will to win,” he said.
William Buick will cross the Atlantic for the ride. He won’t encounter too much traffic in the Mile as only six runners signed up. But the other five are more than familiar with the E.P. Taylor turf course.
Three of those come from trainer Mark Casse including Ice Chocolat and My Sea Cottage, who were recently third and fourth in the Fourstardave at Saratoga. Ice Chocolat has two wins on Woodbine’s turf and has been stakes placed on the Tapeta surface as well. Casse’s other runner is Lucky Score who posted a 14-1 upset in the Highlander Stakes on Canada Day.
The main local threat is Shirl’s Speight. The six-year-old Roger Attfield trainee had a monster 2022, winning two stakes to start the year and capping it off with a second-place finish to Modern Games at the Breeders’ Cup. He was sent on a short world tour to start this year running in Japan and Dubai. His most recent outing was a fourth-place finish in the King Edward Stakes.
Winning the King Edward in mid-August was War Bomber, who will run here for trainer Norm McKnight. The five-year-old has seven wins in 19 starts including four on the turf.
Spots in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf are on the line in the $500,000 Summer Stakes and $500,000 Natalma Stakes. But the final fields are still to be determined.
Four fillies, Catch A Glimpse Stakes winner Airosa, Soaring Free Stakes winner Golden Canary, Bolt Enoree and recent maiden winner Go With Gusto are cross-entered in both races so their eventual landing spots will be announced on Saturday morning.
The Natalma will be headed by the Appleby-trained Dazzling Star, who has one win in three starts in England. Chad Brown will send recent French import Dea Matrona. Ozara and Brocknardini, recent maiden winners at Saratoga, are also brought up for the race.
Many eyes will be on My Boy Prince in the Summer Stakes after the Casse trainee rolled to a 14-length win in the Simcoe Stakes. Casse also has an interesting runner in recent maiden winner King of the Track. The Christophe Clement-trained Carson’s Run comes up from Saratoga after just missing in a stakes event there.
ON A ROLL
One of the best stories at Woodbine this year has been Patches O’Houlihan. The three-year-old gelding will look to run his win streak to six and his stakes run to four when he faces seven rivals in the $150,000 Vigil Stakes. Daisuke Fukumoto will ride the Bob Tiller trainee. Recent stakes winner Outlaw Kid looks to be his main danger.
WOODBINE MILE FIELD (with trainer/jockey) and morning line
1 – Master of The Seas (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) 1-1
2 – War Bomber (Norm McKnight/Rico Walcott) 6-1
3 – Shirl’s Speight (Roger Attfield/John Velazquez) 5-2
4 – Ice Chocolat (Mark Casse/Joel Rosario) 9-2
5 – My Sea Cottage (Casse/Dylan Davis) 15-1
6 – Lucky Score (Casse/Sahin Civaci) 15-1