Shirl’s Speight Tackles Older in Woodbine Mile
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Just a week after one-eyed Mighty Heart upset the $1 million Queen’s Plate, the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile will follow on Saturday, September 19 at Woodbine Racetrack. The one-mile turf race, a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on November 7 at Keeneland, drew eight runners, with 2019 Preakness winner War of Will and tough mare Starship Jubilee will do battle with some local stars.
Standing out as a question mark is the unbeaten Shirl’s Speight. By Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner Speightstown and out of Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) heroine Perfect Shirl, Shirl’s Speight has won both of his starts. He debuted with an eight-length romp on this turf course July 4, then won the Grade 3 Marine Stakes on the main track July 25. The Roger Attfield trainee was being prepared for the Kentucky Derby when a cough sent him to the sidelines for a few days, but he has since worked a bullet on the Woodbine main track.
Dual Grade 1 winner War of Will is a formidable foe on the outside. After being Grade 1 placed on this course as a maiden juvenile, War of Will went on to win two prep races on the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail before winning the Preakness Stakes by over a length. He struggled on the dirt after that, but won the Makers Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland last out by a desperate nose, closing with a late rush after looking beaten mid-stretch. Mark Casse, who has three runners in the race, trains the $1.7 million earner, who picks up leading rider Rafael Hernandez.
Starship Jubilee would be a popular winner. The game seven-year-old mare has earned over $1.6 million and is having the best year of her stellar career, with wins in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga, the Grade 2 Hillsborough at Tampa Bay Downs, and the Grade 3 Suwannee River at Gulfstream Park, as well as the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. Just Stein will ride the Kevin Attard trainee, who last out was fourth, beaten just four lengths, in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga. She is five for eight at the mile.
March to the Arch drew the rail. The second of the Casse runners, the son of Arch is unbeaten on this turf course. He won the Toronto Cup here in 2018, then added the Grade 2 King Edward on August 15. That is the local prep for this race, and on that day he defeated fellow Mile entrant Admiralty Pier. March to the Arch has been on the board in four of six starts this year, and picks up Patrick Husbands.
Not to be overlooked is the Chad Brown-trainee, Value Proposition. The four-year-old with just five starts under his belt is shipping North of the border to run here after finishing third in the Grade 3 Poker at Belmont Park last out. He was two allowance races in a row before that, and is three for five overall.
Armistice Day and Olympic Runner round out the field. Watch and wager on the Woodbine Mile and its undercard races with TVG.
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