Saturday, September 16 is one of the biggest racing days on the Woodbine calendar with a trio of Grade 1 races, all on the world famous E.P. Taylor turf course. Each one offers the winners a free berth to the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita in early November.
As is the case each year, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1), Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes (G1) and bet365 Summer Stakes (G1) present intriguing handicapping puzzles with horses coming in from all over the world.
Horseplayers and racing fans alike will have to decipher European and American form and figure out how it fits against the home team horses.
In addition, Woodbine will offer a $250,000 guaranteed Pick 5 wager on the Grade 1 stakes, the Vigil Stakes (G3) and the 10th race, an allowance event.
The Pick 5 is a 20 cent base wager so fans can spend a little, for a chance to win a lot.
Woodbine, September 16, $250,000 guaranteed Pick 5 wager
Race 6- Summer Stakes
The Summer Stakes is one mile on turf for 2-year-olds and this year's edition has quite a few fillies entered in both this race, usually made up strictly of colts, and the Natalma Stakes (race 8), restricted to fillies. Four fillies entered in the Summer are cross-entered in the Natalma so be sure to check the late scratches and changes.
(3) MY BOY PRINCE will be heavily favoured despite the fact he has never tried grass or the longer distance. The grey colt, trained by Mark Casse, comes off a very fast victory in the restricted Simcoe Stakes in which he earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure according to Daily Racing Form. That is one of the highest Beyers for any 2-year-old in North American this year. My Boy Prince is by a good grass sire, Cairo Prince, and his dam, Hopping Not Hoping, won her only grass race.
I would consider using a couple of other juveniles just in case the favourite has trouble with the one mile distance. (7) AIROSA is a filly but a very good one and she won the Catch a Glimpse Stakes in her most recent start. New York rider John Velazquez will ride her. It is unusual for a filly to race in, or win, the Summer, but it has been done before: My Conquistadory in 2013, Dreaming of Anna, 2016, Blazing Hot, 1995 and Tudor Queen, 1953 to name a few.
(2) CARSON'S RUN is a colt shipping in from New York and he was a close second in a Grade 3 stakes race last time, even though he did not have much pace to run at. He should have plenty of speed to chase in the Summer.
Race 7 – Vigil Stakes (G3)
This speedfest at 6 furlongs could be won by a longshot. (2) OLD CHESTNUT has been third and fourth in the tough sprint stakes races this year and he has not been far away from winning any one of them. He could have an ideal trip sitting off the front runners which include (1) ROCKCREST, who will be happy to get back to the Tapeta track, and the remarkable (6) PATCHES O'HOULIHAN, a 3-year-old who has only lost once in his seven races. Don't leave out the lightly raced Kentucky invader (8) MY BUDDY B, a quick colt who is making that often-key third start following a layoff.
Race 8 – Natalma Stakes (G1)
There are 15 fillies entered but likely a couple of them will compete in the Summer Stakes. (6) AIROSA is a top filly and she must be on the Pick 5 ticket no matter what race she competes in. (1) DAZZLING STAR (GB) is here from England for trainer Charlie Appleby, who has won with his last seven Group 1 starters at Woodbine, a remarkable feat. This gal does not look as powerful as the stable's previous entrants in Woodbine's juvenile stakes.
With a big field, there is room for a few more on the Pick 5 ticket: (3) DANCING DUCHESS, (9) GO WITH GUSTO, (12) OZARA (IRE) and (13) DEA MATRONA (Fr), who is from New York but has only raced in France.
Race 9 – Woodbine Mile (G1)
Trainer Charlie Appleby goes for his second straight Woodbine Mile with (1) MASTER OF THE SEAS (Ire), one of the top rated milers in Europe. His recent win in a Group 2 at ascot saw him defeat Aldaary, who was recently a good fourth to the mighty Paddington in the Sussex Stakes (G1).
The competition is very reachable for the favourite and he is my key horse. My second choice would be (4) ICE CHOCOLAT.
Race 10 – allowance/optional claiming
This is a 1 1/8 mile race on the Tapeta and (1) J P HELLISH won in jaw-dropping fashion, August 11, in his first ever race at Woodbine. I will also include (6) CRUDEN BAY on the Pick 5 ticket.
20 cent Pick 5 wager (before scratches): 2, 3, 7 / 1, 2, 6, 8 /1, 3, 6, 9, 12, 13 / 1 / 1, 6 = $28.80.
Good luck with your wagers!
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