By Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press on September 11, 2019.
TORONTO – Mark Casse has a lot going for him heading into the $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Casse’s filly, Got Stormy, is the early 8-5 favourite for the turf race, which goes Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack. The four-year-old daughter of Get Stormy comes in having won her last two starts, including the Grade 1 Fourstardave Stakes, a mile-long race on grass, by 2 1/2 lengths over her male rivals at Saratoga in a course-record 1:32.00.
That came just a week after Got Stormy captured the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose, another mile-long turf race at Saratoga, by four lengths.
The last two favourites to win the Woodbine Mile were filly Tepin (2016) and World Approval (2017), both Casse-trained horses. Tepin became just the second filly to capture this event after Ventura (2009).
Woodbine can certainly be considered the home track for Casse, who’s been its leading trainer 11 times and was named Canada’s top conditioner on 11 occasions. He’s also won the Queen’s Plate (twice) and Breeders’ Stakes (twice), two Canadian Triple Crown events that are run at Woodbine.
But while the Plate is on Woodbine’s Tapeta course, the Breeders’ is a 1 1/2-mile grass event.
Got Stormy has run – and won – on Woodbine’s turf course before, capturing the mile-long Grade 3 Ontario Colleen Stakes on July 21, 2018. But Woodbine’s Patrick Husbands rode Got Stormy to that victory. On Saturday, jockey Tyler Gaffalione will be aboard and ride in Canada for the first time.
“That was one of my reasons for going back there,” Casse said in a telephone interview. “Having had some success at Woodbine never hurts.
“Do we have home-field advantage? Maybe a little but not so much with her because I don’t know how much her experience a year ago will help her. As far as Tyler never riding there, Tyler is just a great rider so I’m not going to worry about that.”
Got Stormy drew the No. 5 post Wednesday in the 11-horse field during the race draw at Woodbine. Norman Powell of the NBA-champion Toronto Raptors served as guest drawmaster.
French-bred Raging Bull, the 3-1 second choice that finished second to Got Stormy in the Fourstardave, will break from the No. 7 post. Synchrony, the 6-1 third pick, drew the No. 4 post.
Casse was good with Got Stormy’s post position.
“I just didn’t want to be right inside,” he said. “It sometimes makes you have to do things you don’t necessarily want to do but you’ve got to play the cards that are dealt to you.
“One of the things that’s made her better is her ability to adapt to the situation. She can be up on the lead or very close to it.”
Got Stormy has finished in the money in all five races this season (three wins, second, third) and will chase an eighth victory in 16 lifetime starts.
The race winner will not only earn $600,000, but also qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Raging Bull, unraced as a two-year-old, will make his 12th career start Saturday, all coming on turf. The four-year-old is winless in four races this year (second, third) but will chase a sixth career victory overall.
Trainer Chad Brown is hoping his horse can benefit from the sweeping turn and long stretch of Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor turf course.
“I think so, that’s my hope anyway,” he said. “He’s doing really well.”
It’s a fact not lost upon Casse.
“I think Raging Bull may like the longer stretch at Woodbine versus maybe at Saratoga,” he said. “Tyler is going to have to judge his ride well.
“The good news about (Got Stormy) is she tends to not go until you ask her to go, which is also very important on the Woodbine turf course.”
The race field, with post, horse, jockey and early odds, includes: 1) El Tormenta, Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 20-1; 2) Lucullan, Luis Saez, 8-1; 3) Silent Poet, Gary Boulanger, 15-1; 4) Synchrony, Flavien Prat, 6-1; 5) Got Stormy, Gaffalione, 8-5; 6) Awesometank, John Egan, 8-1; 7) Raging Bull, Joel Rosario, 3-1; 8) American Guru, Rafael Hernandez, 30-1; 9) Made You Look, Luis Contreras, 12-1; 10) Emmaus, Channing Hill, 20-1; 11) Admiralty Pier, Patrick Husbands, 30-1.
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