Marcus Hersh: Picks for Woodbine Mile, Singspiel, Ontario Racing

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The pickings south of the Canadian border this Saturday are slim indeed.

The Belmont Oaks Invitational somehow drew just five entrants. The Downs at Albuquerque Handicap is the only other American six-figure stakes Saturday and try as I might to side against heavily favored Restrainedvengence, I failed.

So, it’s off to Woodbine. I don’t love any single horse but at least find enough raw material for three possible plays.


Woodbine Mile

Not a vintage renewal, for sure.

As of midday Thursday, it was uncertain whether Admiralty Pier runs here or in the Singspiel.

War of Will is 2-1 on the morning line and could sink lower than that. This colt is a rare Grade 1 winner on both dirt, where he captured the 2019 Preakness, and turf, where he won the Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland last out. The Keeneland win meant more, but War of Will ran at least as well in the Shoemaker Mile, where he was the only pace player anywhere close to the top finishers. He also turned in a laudable performance in 2018 when second to talented Fog of War over the Woodbine turf.

Here’s the thing: War of Will originally got switched to dirt because he is more of a one-paced strong galloping type. He has speed and can sustain it but lacks gears the best turf horses possess. War of Will won the Maker’s Mark last out exactly the way he’ll succeed at this level — using speed to get a jump on the closers, hanging on through the final half-furlong. It can be effective, but one would much rather hope that needle gets threaded at 6-1, his price the last two, than his Saturday odds.

War of Will’s Mark Casse-trained stablemate March to the Arch comes off a very nice course and distance win in the King Edward — very nice, and at the very top end of his performance range. Best-case scenario is March to the Arch repeats that effort at a shorter price while stepping up in class — not a value-generating proposition.

Value Proposition is 6-1 on the line, but with a 100 Beyer Speed Figure and Chad Brown at the helm, he likely comes down from that. This colt’s quality remains an open question but watching all his races and the recent work available on video, I came to believe most of this iceberg already is visible above the waterline.

Starship Jubilee should provide the value here and will be worth a play. This amazing mare seems undimmed at age 7, and while she has found Woodbine success in nine- and 10-furlong races, she still packs a powerful finish at a mile or thereabouts. Her tactical versatility is a true asset, you get a bump in the odds because she was slightly below her best last out, and she gets a break in the weights.



The form here is all over the map, and if Admiralty Pier goes in the Woodbine Mile, there’s no actual speed signed on. The morning line looks questionable to me, and the thought is Skywire winds up higher than the published 7-2.

Fair to wonder, based on his Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales’s, if Skywire can go as far as this 1 1/4-mile trip, but my guess is factors beyond distance limitations accounted for those failures. You also might wonder if his strong synthetic form transfers to turf, but I felt better about that watching Skywire’s June 11 allowance race, where he lengthened stride very encouragingly through the final furlong. Theoretically, he has the pace to sit closer to the front than many and comes into this in career-best form.


Ontario Racing

Amsden, who could be odds-on here, beat a pair of next-out winners in his Colonial Downs debut win, but the runner-up captured an Indiana-bred maiden race while the show horses returned to beat a soft bunch at Colonial. Moreover, Amsden was put to a drive when collared at the quarter pole and was hard-ridden to that victory.

Amsden and second choice Ready to Repeat, who has little upside right now and is first Lasix, could wind up part of a taxing, contested pace, and I’ll take Sky’s Not Falling to run them down. Sky’s Not Falling at Saratoga encountered Golden Pal, possibly the best 2-year-old turf sprinter in the world right now; runner-up Fauci is no slouch himself. The half-furlong cutback won’t hurt, and his recent work looks sharp.


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