Equibase Analysis: Appleby Set For Back-To-Back Woodbine Mile Wins? - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Equibase Analysis: Appleby Set For Back-To-Back Woodbine Mile Wins?

Rico Walcott guides War Bomber, outside, to a hard-fought victory over Treason in the King Edward (G2) at Woodbine

The 2023 edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile brings together a field of six, with the winner of the race receiving an automatic fees-paid berth in the G1 Breeders' Cup Mile Nov. 4 at Santa Anita.

Irish-bred Master of The Seas will get the most attention as he won the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes in England in July when last seen, and as trainer Charles Appleby won the 2022 edition of this race with Modern Games. Another Irish-bred, War Bomber, will also garner support as he won the G2 King Edward Stakes over the Woodbine turf course last month. Lucky Score won the G2 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine in July at a shorter distance and finished third in the King Edward in his most recent race. Ice Chocolat, a Brazilian-bred, was most recently third in the G1 Fourstardave Handicap at the distance last month but has yet to win a North American graded stakes. Shirl's Speight won the G1 Maker's Mark Mile Stakes in April, 2022 but is winless in eight races since then, including a fourth-place finish in the King Edward. Irish-bred My Sea Cottage finished fourth in the Fourstardave after setting the pace and appears overmatched.

Main Contenders:

Master of The Seas – The tremendous record trainer Charles Appleby has when shipping horses from Europe to run in graded stakes in North America is as important as the horses he brings over for big races. Per an Equibase Race Lens query, Appleby has raced 30 horses on this continent in the past five years, with 17 different horses winning 22 races in 56 starts. Better still, in Grade 1 races, the record of Appleby runners is 17 wins from 41 starts with another eight having finished second. If you bet every one of those 41 horses to win, even without regard for the horse's previous form, you would have a very profitable return of $3.22 for every $2. One of those was Modern Games in the 2022 Ricoh Woodbine Mile, who finished second in a Group 1 race in July but has since been retired.

Master of The Seas won the Summer Mile Stakes on July 15, and did so easily by four lengths. He earned a 119 Equibase Speed Figure for that effort, equaling the 119 earned in April 2022 when winning the G3 Earl of Sefton Stakes. The only other horse in this year's Woodbine Mile field who has come close to running that fast is Shirl's Speight, who earned a 119 figure when winning the Maker's Mark Mile in the spring of 2022. Jockey William Buick has ridden Master of The Seas to four of his six lifetime wins and will be aboard on Saturday.

Ice Chocolat may be the horse with the second-highest probability to win, although that still may be far afield from Master of The Seas. Ice Chocolat has won five times in his 18 race career, all on grass, but his most recent win was 11 months ago in the fall of 2022 in a sprint at Woodbine. Just the same, in three of his last four races the horse has run very well although not winning.

In May, Ice Chocolat finished second in the G3 Jacques Cartier Stakes on the all-weather track at Woodbine and earned a career best 113 figure. After a sixth place effort in the G1 Jaipur Stakes in June, Ice Chocolat earned a 108 figure when fourth in a very strong field in the G3 Kelso Stakes at this one mile turf trip. In his most recent start, in the Fourstardave Handicap, he finished third with a 109 figure. Both those races were won by Casa Creed, a four-time winner in Grade 1 stakes and likely to be one of the favorites for the G1 Breeders' Cup Mile in November.

In the Fourstardave, My Sea Cottage (who shares the same owner and trainer as Ice Chocolat) was responsible for setting a fast pace to help his stablemate, and that should also be the case in this race. Jockey Joel Rosario rode Ice Chocolat (BRZ) for the first time in the Fourstardave, a race where the horse was bothered by horses on the first turn and in the stretch, so perhaps his seventh to third closing rally may be bettered in the Woodbine Mile.

War Bomber was bred in Ireland but has done all of his running in North America. He won three races in a row at one mile on the Woodbine turf in 2021, including the Toronto Cup Stakes, then last summer won the G3 Seagram Cup Stakes on the main track before finishing ninth in this race. Returning off a six-month layoff in June of this year, War Bomber ran poorly in two starts before a jockey change to Rico Walcott turned his fortune around. First he finished second with a 103 figure in the G2 Connaught Cup Stakes in July, then improved to a 108 figure effort winning the G2 King Edward Stakes at the same mile trip as this race.

Last year War Bomber earned 112 figure in two of his best efforts, and as he improved last month off his previous effort he could get back to that level today so warrants respect as a contender.

The rest of the field, with their best Equibase Speed Figures in a similar race, is Lucky Score (104), My Sea Cottage (102) and Shirl's Speight (119 but in 2022).

Win Contenders (in probability/preference order):

Master of The Sea (IRE)

Ice Chocolat (BRZ)

War Bomber (IRE)

Ricoh Woodbine Mile – Grade 1, $1-million purse

Saturday, September 16 – Woodbine, Race 9; Post Time 5:42 p.m. ET.

One Mile on Turf

3-Year-Olds and Upward

Ellis Starr is national racing analyst for Equibase

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