Thinking Outside The Box For The WO Mile

WO Mile (Grade 1) (BC)- $1,000.000 Purse
WO- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Turf
September 16, 2023

This Saturday at WO, the third of four “win and you’re in” races for the BC Mile will be taking place. As if that was not enough incentive for trainers to head north of the border, the WO Mile also offers a $1,000.000 purse to be divided up amongst its top four finishers. This has led to the starting gate being mostly full, with twelve talented runners taking their chance at cashing in on the rewards that this race offers. Among the horses we will see in this race include the top horse presently on the BC Mile, Mickey, and one of the automatic qualifiers already, Absolutely Grande. Otherwise, these points will be very impactful for those who are able to cash in. Last year, Lets Do It Big Boy lived up to his name, grabbing the win for RNP Stables. He was eight when he won, and it would prove to be his final career win. The gelding has been retired, coming very recently, after a 73-race career. Congrats to him on that! Here’s a look at those taking part in this, the eighteenth edition of the race!

#1- Drone Strike (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by P Lopez)- Had a stretch of four wins in five starts earlier this year, that began very modestly but culminated in a pair of ungraded stake wins, highlighted by topping NY-breds in NY Stallion Series- Bid. That’s the last time that he has seen firm turf in a race, as his last two races have come on off tracks. Fared well by running third in the Grade 3 Quick Call at SAR but may not have liked the soft turf in his last time out there. Looks like he won’t have to worry about it being wet on Saturday.

#2- Way To Party (Establo Pichon, ridden by D E Centeno)- This one is still just getting his career rolling, as the three year old has made just seven starts with one winner’s circle party afterwards. Unfortunately, that was at the free track, so as now, Establo Pichon still hasn’t made much with this one. Last month, he ran on the main track right here for the $100.000 Elgin Stakes, where he was third against fellow Canadians. There’s nothing wrong with his dirt races, but a recent turf work suggests that he should be better on the grass than what he has shown to this point.

#3- Singing Strings (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by J Lezcano)- Out of nineteen starts, Singing Strings has only managed two wins, but one of them does come in his last start, which was an optional claimer at DMR. Can we count on this horse to start a winning streak now? He was more consistent in 2022, and did run in the Dandy that year, but this year his results have been all over the place. What’s been better are his last two starts, so we suspect the trainer has found a little something with Singing Strings, possibly in regards to tactics. TwinTowers never backs down from entering his horses high and this is no exception.

#4- Riley (Royalty Stables, ridden by D Davis)- A winner of three out of his last five races, and he has earned triple digit SRF’s for his last three races. In July, he made his stake debut at SAR at the Grade 3 Kelso Stakes and nearly pulled it off, but missed the headbob at the wire to Prom King, and settled for second. A month later, he showed up here for the Grade 2 King Edward BC Stakes, and there was no one who was going to get in his way this time around, not even Bronze Bomber. Mile turf works on this one are consistent and impressive, and I believe he has a bright future. Even if he doesn’t win here, we’ll be writing about him a lot here, I reckon.

#5- Winter Book (Fractious, ridden by F Geroux)- Prior to his last race, Winter Book had only raced on the main track and did appear in a couple of KYD preps, such as the LA Derby and SA Derby and ran in the middle of the pack, and the ran in the Haskell in July and was towards the back. Post draws hated him in those races, by the way. Then, last month, it was to the grass for the first time for Winter Book, as he was entered into the Grade 2 Secretariat at CNL, and like Riley in the Kelso, he almost won, but settled for second after missing the headbob (to Energizer Party). Worked well at DMR in anticipation of this, and is poised to run a big one here. Watch out for him!

#6- Commanding Officer (Winning Link Stables, ridden by L Dettori)- Ran in the WO Mile last year, but it is not a highlight of his career. Now, he looks to redeem himself but it’s hard to get excited about him when looking at his last two and considering the competition he is up against here. Is there any chance that Commanding Officer can rediscover that form he had in May when he looked real good in his $300.000 Opening Verse win at CD? That’s what needs to happen, and that race isn’t too far back for it to be feasible. Works have been steady throughout the last four months.

#7- Grand Opening (Riggins Racing, ridden by J R Velazquez)- He’s proven that he knows how to win, doing so eight times over his fifteen career starts but only after arriving at Riggins Racing did Grand Opening start running against stronger foes. In May, he got the victory in the Grade 3 Dinner Point, which capped a six race winning streak. Two back, he was awarded a 104 SRF for his win in a open allowance at LAD, and now deserves to be running in his first Grade 1. Placed third last month in the King Edward BC Stakes. Could get lost in the shuffle of other contenders here at the betting window.

#8- Pxg (Mb Stables, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- A winner of over $2,000.000 for his career, but prior to his last start, he had not won since the Shadwell Turf Mile last October. That doesn’t mean that he had been running poorly, but Mb Stables was still concerned enough about him to drop him all the way down to a $15.000 open allowance on the 5th of this month. He prevailed, as you probably figured he did, and now we will see if he just needed that confidence booster. Not worried about the short turnaround time with this one.

#9- Absolutely Grande (Grimley, ridden by F Prat)- Last month at SAR, Absolutely Grande punched his ticket to the BC Mile by winning over soft turf in the Fourstardave Handicap. That doesn’t mean that his work is done before then, and the trainer would love to see another strong effort before that race, because let’s face it, there was nothing grande about his two races before the Fourstardave. He’s very good on off tracks, so you have to wonder how much that played into that win, too. We’re likely to have firm turf for the WO Mile, so it’s a good chance to prove he can get it done when it’s dry, too.

#10- Mickey (South Shore Stables, ridden by L Saez)- The winner of the BC Turf last fall has continued to be a force as four year old, even if he’s only won twice. Those came during the spring, when he captured the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile at SA and then the Grade 1 Makers Mark Mile at KEE. Otherwise, finishing second has been more his thing, as he has finished in that spot in three of his last four races, all against some of the strongest foes that he can run against. Last saw him on soft turf for the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at SAR when it was King Que Niagra that rolled off his second straight win in that race.

#11- Wimbledon (Night Rider Stables, ridden by E J Zayas)- One of those horses that has won a lot, doing so in twelve of his 31 career starts, but most of those races were in overnights and in smaller such races to boot. With Night Rider Stables, Wimbledon has been tested a lot more, and picked up a stake win in June, the $100.000 With Anticipation for PA-breds. Altogether, he’s won three of four, so he’ll get the chance to step up here.

#12- Proud Bo (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by R M Hernandez)- Proud Bo will be hoping to find the version of himself that won the Grade 2 BEL Gold Cup in June. It was a great effort, but the only race out of his last five where he looked good. Two weeks ago, he was in the Grade 3 Mint Million, where he only beat one horse in the field. The quick turnaround says that TwinTowersRacing isn’t worried at all about that, but in a field like this, it’s hard to get excited about him. But, if that BEL Gold Cup Proud Bo shows up, he’ll light up the board, more than likely.

Prediction: 4-5-10-7

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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