Stars Are Out for WO Mile

WO Mile (Grade 1) (BC)- $800.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
September 16, 2017

With the BC getting closer and closer now, we are treated to fascinating races like this one, the 12th running of the WO Mile. The race will certainly be reference in BC Mile previews, or perhaps other BC races, should one perhaps decide to go longer on the big day. It’s not just that large $800.000 purse that attracts a star-studded field, but it is about far more then that. Since this is just a big race for the BC Mile, how have previous WO Mile winners done in the big race? Last year, Compress, who looks to do the double this year, ran third in the BC Mile, missing by less then half a length. Typically, the WO Mile has fared well in the BC Mile, and twice we have seen a horse win each of the races during the same season. The ones that did are not actually the biggest known names on the past winners list for the WO Mile, either: Victory Rain in 2009, and Trading Punches a year later. The winner of our race on Saturday is very capable of joining that company, regardless of who does win this race. There are fourteen going to the post, and we need to see who’ll we will be talking highly about in nearly six weeks. Let’s meet the field!

#1- Compress (Cherrytree Hill Farm, ridden by R Bejarano)- I haven’t had a chance to watch Compress in quite some time, so its exciting to see him here as he looks to win the WO Mile for the second straight year. This year probably has not gone the way the trainer has wanted, with just the one victory, in an allowance. After a tough start in the Pegasus World Cup, Compress has not done as well in stakes this year, at least until his last race. A runner up in the Fourstardave (Grade 1) at SAR last month can definitely be a turning point and get him back to being the horse we remember.

#2- Level Charge (Wolfs Den, ridden by J Rosario)- Acquired late last year cheaply for $25.000 in private sales, Level Charge progressed nicely as a three year old, and would get a win in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, run the week between the KYD and PRK. Naturally, Wolfs Den tried him in the BEL after that run against the best in the business, and Level Charge finished in the middle of the field. His Haskell performance was similar. So, now he goes to the grass, where he has only raced once, and it was no where near against the caliber of rivals he faces today. While the works are solid, they do not stand out at me as being much better then his dirt works, so I can’t see his finish against the best on turf being much different then his performance against the best on dirt.

#3- Lunar Blaze (John Henry, ridden by J R Velazquez)- Over the last few races that I have covered, it seems like I have seen a bunch of very good horses that are simply long overdue for a win. Lunar Blaze is probably tops on that list. His last two starts give plenty of fodder for those who believe SRF numbers are worthless, since they are two of his recent best, but two off the board finishes. It’s been 13 months now, and it could be said that it makes Pan Farms look smarter and smarter, but eventually Lunar Blaze will get that win. That’s because he’s still good, and in a great credit to John Henry, he has not dropped him down to get a win, and keeps running him against the best.

#4- Hold The Mach (Night Rider Stables, ridden by R Maragh)- The seven year old gelding has run in the BC Mile the last two years, though maybe if we go off of his finishes in them, it’s a bad omen for him to return. He’s won two of six this year, with the highlight being the Grade 3 Appleton at GP in April. More recently, he was a little disappointing in the Fourstardave, and that is of some concern since he sees Sir Tom and Compress again here. The trainer gets his jockey of choice for this race, and, other then the last race, they have hooked up well in their prior two times together.

#5- Sir Tom (Brave, ridden by K J Desormeaux)- The 2015 BC Mile champion has continued to go strong in his six year old season, with three wins in eight starts. Two of those victories have come in his last two races as well, with the first being the Grade 3 American Turf, which was not the largest of fields, but if there were any doubters, they would have been silenced by his victory last month at SAR at the Fourstardave, where he pulled out a win over Compress as well as Hold The Mach. The speed figures have bounced back into the triple digits after a bit of a lull. Despite his overall success, the WO Mile has not been kind to him with a 6th and a 7th place finish in his two previous tries. I’m a fan of his, and think the third time will be the charm.

#6- Desolation Island (Mb Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- The five year old 2015 BC Turf runner up, makes his fourth trip north of the border, and he’s had success here on this race weekend in the past, if you go back to 2015. But there’s no reason to go back all that far when you are on a three race winning streak like Desolation Island is on. During the spring, he had two very good looking wins, with one in the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile, and then following it up with a win in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile. Then, he ended up in a $44.000 allowance at ELP, in what started as a field as five and after scratches became a field of three (and for full disclosure, note that all three runners had plenty of stake experience). That extended his streak to three. Getting number four will be more difficult.

#7- Antelope Storm (Scarletandgraystable, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- Scarletandgraystable has found the magic with Antelope Storm ever since acquiring him for $149.000 in private sales. He had been plenty successful prior to that sale, but it does seem a little like his game has been elevated a little bit here. After all, Antelope Storm has won four straight, and has registered triple digit SRF’s in all five of his races with his current trainer. All four of the wins were in solid graded stakes, and the one that attracts me the most was his win in the Grade 2 Dixie, beating both Sir Tom and Seven Years. His most recent triumph was in the Grade 2 Read Stakes out at DMR. This is an interesting race for him, as he can certainly win, but doubters may point to his lack of running against actual Grade 1 competition this year.

#8- Tin Lizzie (Stald Gullis, ridden by V Espinoza)- It will be the 35th career start for the five year old gelding and the trainer is hoping to get win number ten. The 8th win was particularly special, as it made him a BC Mile Champion. He had run in the WO Turf prior to that race as well, and finished fourth, so all of our non-winners in this race can take heart in knowing that things can change down the road. After winning the BC Mile, Tin Lizzie would win later in November, but since then, he’s been stuck on nine wins. Recent runs have been seen him be off the board, but that has also been the story of his career: a run of disappointments, then wham, a big race.

#9- Great Destiny (Mwn Racing, ridden by Mar Garcia)- Still lightly raced with just seven races under his belt, his name could foreshadow his future based on his last effort. Prior to his last race, he had simply participated in allowance company, but the trainer took a shot at moving him forward, running in the Grade 2 DMR Mile last month, and he pulled off an impressive victory. He has adapted really well to the turf, and if he continues to be on the up and up like that, then his destiny will be one of success. He gets another tough assignment here, but he’s ready for the challenge.

#10- One Direction (Estero Farms, ridden by G Boulanger)- Purchased by the current trainer from Australia Wide for just $65.000, and Estero Farms has to be thrilled with the return so far. One Direction is still pretty young, with just seven starts, but he’s picked up three wins, which is highlighted by the $100.000 Toronto Cup in July. It’s part of three straight races he has had here at WO, but the other two runs saw him finish off the board. In actuality, his last four races see him rotating great performance with tough performance, and I would like to see that become more consistent going in one direction before I can be his groupie.

#11- Kenny Wisconsin (Aer Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- In 21 career starts, Kenny Wisconsin has been to the winners circle five times, but is looking to do so for the first time with his new trainer. Aer Stables picked up the longtime Frozen Tundra standby for $140.000 in private sales this June. Some will think this is a bad post for him, but Kenny Wisconsin actually loves coming from outside. In three starts wearing a double digit number, he has one win and two second place finishes. Ok, so they were mostly a long time ago in small maidens. But the precedent is there! He’s not as consistent as I would like to see in order to pick him.

#12- Daddyboughtme (Big Guns Stable, ridden by J J Castellano)- This three year old Broomstick Opus colt has been very successful with four wins in eleven career starts, and has been in the money in nine of those races. It includes a good run of allowance starts down in Florida, but he is still untested at this level. His only stake attempt was at PIM in the Murphy Stakes, a $100.000 ungraded race, in which he ran second. It started a streak of three straight second places, with the other two being in allowances or optional claimers. This is a tough assignment and the post won’t make it easier.

#13- Seven Years (Alydar Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- For the 62nd time, Seven Years will head to the track. The eight year old horse has had an impressive career of longstanding success, and he has been able to remain very competitive to this day. He has won at least one graded stake every year since 2012, with this years win being the Grade 3 Miami Mile. While the class of the race may not wow you, he beat Compress and the great Jamfest in that race. He would be second in the Grade 2 Dixie in May, and if he had won that, it would have been his third win in that stake. This is the second furthest to the outside that he has ever started in his career. In this very race, the WO mile in 2014, he started from post 14. And won. He’ll be competitive, but he’ll have to find that magic again today to win.

#14- Serious Cobra (Aer Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- The three year old by KYD-winning King Cobra looks to pick up the biggest win of his career while trying to use Seven Years’ 2014 achievement as motivation. He’s won four of eleven, and that included a stretch during the winter where he won three in a row. The best win of that stretch being the Grade 3 Diana B down at GP. Since that streak, he’s been very competitive and has two close second place finishes in his last three starts. Most recently, he was at SAR for the National Museum of Racing (Grade 2), and posted a career high 101 SRF as he missed the headbob for the win to Far Too Cool. He’s working well leading into this race, and will be a factor regardless of his post position.

Prediction: 5-7-6-1

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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