WO Mile (Grade 1) (BC)- $800.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
September 15, 2018
This is a tremendous weekend of racing north of the border at WO, as several BC “Win and You’re In” races are taking place. Here, let’s take a look at the race with the largest purse of any of them, the 13th running of the WO Mile. There is a pretty interesting storyline with this race as Compress looks to win the race for the third consecutive year. That would be a truly remarkable feat, and while some people may want to point to his goose egg in the win column for 2018, when he won last year, he had not won any stakes either that season up to that point. He did take an open allowance that year. We’ll look at Compress in detail a little later, but there is plenty of reason to still be an optimist about him. Looking to spoil the party are thirteen very worthy opponents. Now, let’s take a moment to meet our runners, all of whom have BC visions less then two months away.
#1- Cobra Skull (John Henry, ridden by L Saez)- At the beginning of the year, Cobra Skull hit a low point in his career, being dropped into a $7.000 maiden claimer. He’d be claimed, and gradually improve, and to the point where he’d win the $100.000 Woodhaven at AQU in late April. After an ownership change, which has been common with him, he then raised more eyebrows with a third place run in the Grade 3 PEN Mile. He’s fared well in ungraded stakes, but has not had a chance to run on firm turf at the graded level. Cobra Skull has come a long way, and this post should suit his running style.
#2- Apollos Gold (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by A Beschizza)- Interesting story with this one as he never raced as a three year old. He sat in the Eastern Equine barn from November 2016 until February of this year without racing, and a week after being purchased by Team 7 Illusions, he broke his maiden. After faring well at the allowance level, Apollos Gold found himself battling graded opposition at the Grade 2 DMR Mile, and finished third. This four year old only has six races in his career, so he may just be hitting his peak now, making him dangerous in this field.
#3- Swamp Fox (Blushing Meadows, ridden by K Frey)- This gritty seven year old gelding will making the 57th start of his career, and looking for win number fourteen. He’s run in the BC three times in his career, twice being the Turf Sprint, coming in 2014 and 2017. In 2016, he ran in the BC Mile, which is the race he is targeting with this effort today. This season has not been all about glory for him, but his last race, with K Frey also aboard, suggested a resurgence for him, as he was second in the DMR Mile, narrowly missing the upset victory at 18/1. If you really want to go back, Swamp Fox ran in the WO Mile in 2014, and placed second. Just a bit shy of $2,000.00 in career earnings, and should be a threat to reach that here.
#4- Decibel (Threshold, ridden by J L Ortiz)- Ran second last month at the Grade 1 AP Million, putting himself over $1,000.000 in career earnings. Decibel has made a lot of noise in his last four starts, all of which had J L Ortiz in the saddle, as he won the GP Turf Handicap in February, and don’t overlook his fourth place, though within a length of victory, effort at the Grade 1 Manhattan two starts ago. If there is a question mark on him, it is this distance, and whether he can top those more experienced at this level at a mile. His running style seems to suggest it won’t be a problem, but he better be ready for the finish line to show up after eight furlongs.
#5- Devil Six (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- With the great F Pennington looking to win this race for the first time, D J C Racing Stables has to feel even better about Devil Six’s chances on winning the race. Since acquiring him in private sales in June for $401.000 from Maxmillion Farm, Devil Six has run decently, but still looks for that big race with his new trainer. He comes off a third place effort in the Grade 1 Fourstardave at Spa on soft turf. Three of last four races have been on off tracks, though we anticipate it will be fast/firm here on Saturday.
#6- Worst Case Scenario (Mb Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- This is a race that Mb Stables has not won yet, and he will bring three to the starting gate hoping to break that slump. Worst Case Scenario is the only one of them that the trainer was likely happy about where he drew in the starting gate. His name could be a reference to his four fifth place finishes in his last five races, since that’s the best finishing spot to not get a check. Mixed in with that is a victory in the $100.000 Oceanside Stakes, against four others. Overall, he is two for four on the grass in his career.
#7- Compress (Cherrytree Hill Farm, ridden by R Bejarano)- We look for history here as Compress seeks to win the WO Mile for the third straight year. It has been an amazing career for him, with nine wins in 31 starts, and over $3,200.000 in career earnings. We have not talked about him much this year, as he has not won in any of his eight starts, but I would be very careful on dismissing him over that fact. In his last five races, all at the graded level, he has been within a length of victory in four of them. So, with just a tiny bit more luck, the storyline on him could be that he’s won four graded stakes in 2018. He knows what needs to be done in this race, and with R Bejarano back aboard, there’s no reason to think he can’t pull this out.
#8- Stormy Bello (Joshua Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- After enjoying an impressive win with Beach Dandy last week, Joshua Stables looks to stay hot with this veteran eight year old gelding. His last start was in the Grade 1 Fourstardave, and an effort that would truly make the great Fourstardave proud, as he ran second by a neck in the race. Prior to that, he was third in the AP Handicap, a Grade 3, so the trainer is certainly getting plenty of value from his $12.030 auction purchase in June. Been a major longshot in his last two, and while he shouldn’t be one, if the odds do climb to that level again, definitely take a shot.
#9- Awesome Indeed (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- The Foresight colt spent much of 2017 running on the grass, and was on a good run of form when he was taken off of it, and put on the main track for the $75.000 Thanksgiving Handicap. He’d win there, too, and it would lead to several races on the dirt, and while there were some bright spots, he would not win again. His last two races saw a return to the grass, though going longer, and he’s been off the board in each. The Grade 2 DMR Handicap did see a valiant comeback bid. Needs to get back to the winners circle, but a little tough to pick as he goes up against this crowd.
#10- Duke Or Earl (Gdp Inc, ridden by J Bravo)- We have spent a bit of time talking about runners in the DMR Mile, since the second and third place runners of that race are here in the WO Mile. The one that narrowly beat them was this four year old gelding, who was particularly impressive in the stretch to get up in time and beat those rivals. It was his fourth win of the year, but definitely his signature win to this point. Since arriving with Gdp Inc, Duke Or Earl is usually finishing near the front, and picking up some sort of check. It is exciting to see how he will fare here as he looks to follow up that win. Another step forward with a win here could make him one of the favorites for the BC Mile.
#11- Z One Chance (John Henry, K J Desormeaux)- Once he finally figured out how to win, Z One Chance went on a streak of picking up seven wins in nine starts, with a second thrown in for good measure. That run culminated with a victory at the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at SA in May. His reward for that? That would be to be sold to John Henry for $500.000 a month later. In July, he would make his debut in the John Henry silks, coming in the Grade 1 Crosby at DMR, and he would win there, too! That’s one thing I really like about Z One Chance, as it doesn’t seem to matter what surface or what distance he is running, he simply knows how to get it done. He just a few bucks shy of $1,000.000 in his career, and he should break that barrier here. In fact, he is my pick to win!
#12- Nowhere Man (Mb Stables, ridden by L H Colon)- After a promising two year old season, Nowhere Man started this year in optional claimers before ending up in the AR Derby in April. He would run a decent fifth there, and went back to the grass, a surface he had plenty of experience on prior, to place third in the Pennine Ridge. After that, he ran sixth in the BEL Derby, and would be sold later that day to Mb Stables, for $200.000. He made his debut in Mb silks at the $400.000 Breeders Stakes for Canadians, and ran third. A lot of close finishes on his resume, but after winning the Nashua as a two year old, he is still looking for a big win.
#13- Dignified (Mb Stables, ridden by D E Centeno)- Had some trouble finding a regular owner early in his career, but put together some good runs for John Henry, which included a win in the $75.000 Armed Forces last September. Despite that, at the same track, GP, in February, he was in a $25.000 claimer, and picked up by Mb Stables. Right now, he rides a three race winning streak, with the most recent being the $150.000 West Point. Is there irony, in that this horse named Dignified, who is by Revolutionary, has seen his biggest wins be the Armed Forces, and the West Point?
#14- Liverpool Rocket (Estero Farms, ridden by I Ortiz)- Played second fiddle to Pretty Ferro in the TC races this spring for the trainer. His best race on that TC trail would be the runner up showing at the AR Derby. This race will be his first time running on the grass since he was in the BC Juvenile Turf at DMR last fall. He finished near the back in that race, but it is interesting to see how he transitions back to the grass after so long. In the meantime, he should turn to his stablemate Pretty Ferro to get some advice on winning from an outside post.