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May 16, 2010

Woodbine Mile attracts 13 turf runners



Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - The winner of Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile is guaranteed a starting place for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Churchill Downs in November. Thirteen turf specialists have been entered for the opportunity to secure a coveted spot in the championship race.

Joining the Woodbine Mile on the day's program are the $750,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at 1 1/2-miles and at 1 1/8-miles on the grass the $300,000 Canadian Stakes for fillies and mares.

The 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Mile is The Usual Q.T. trained by Jim Cassidy. The four-year-old gelding will be ridden by Victor Espinoza from post 11.

The Usual Q.T. is coming off a fifth-place finish in last month's Pacific Classic on the synthetic main track at Del Mar. He was less than three-lengths behind repeat winner Richard's Kid.

"He's back on the grass, which is good. Everybody tells me that's where he wants to be, although I may differ," Cassidy said at the post position draw. "He came out of the race (Pacific Classic) really well. I thought, initially, three weeks, that's a little tight. But he doesn't seem to be any worse for it. He's put on his weight again. He acts good. I really have no reason to think he won't perform well."

His big win this year was the Eddie Read Handicap on the turf at Del Mar. He has eight wins in 16 career starts with a little better than $1 million in earnings.

Five-year-old Court Vision is the 7-2 second pick in the program. Trained by Rick Dutrow, Court Vision will break from post four with Robby Albarado again in the saddle.

"He's doing good," said Dutrow. "Couldn't be training any better as far as we know. We think he's sitting on another big race. He's been very happy with himself. He's coming off a freshening again. I'm hoping he likes that grass (at Woodbine) and I'm hoping he'll like the one-turn (mile)."

Owned by IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stable, Court Vision has earned more than $1.9 million in his 23-race career, making him the field's leading money winner.

Of his seven career victories, the only win this year came through a disqualification at Gulfstream Park. Court Vision finished second behind Take the Points in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, however the winner was disqualified allowing Court Vision to be declared the victor.

The 4-1 third choice is Victor's Cry with Corey Nakatani riding. Trained by Eoin Harty for Equilete Stable, the five-year-old will start from post two.

Victor's Cry has earned $410,633 with five lifetime wins in 18 starts. In May at Hollywood Park he won the Shoemaker Mile on the turf. Also this year he was second in both the San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita and most recently was two-lengths behind The Usual Q.T. in the Eddie Read.

"I think he ran a great race," Harty said about the Eddie Read. "The fractions were slower than I thought they would be. But I think I just got beat by the best horse.

"I think I can beat him (The Usual Q.T.) at a mile. I would have beat him at a mile at Del Mar. I don't necessarily want to run against him again. But we knew with a million dollar purse hanging, you can expect the very best to show up for it."

Here is the full field for the Mile in post position order: Crowded House, Joel Rosario, 12-1; Victor's Cry, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; Zifzaf, Julien Leparoux, 30-1; Court Vision, Robby Albarado, 7-2; Straight Story, Rajiv Maragh, 12-1; Smokey Fire, Jono Jones, 15-1; Signature Red, Eurico Rosa da Silva, 20-1; Auteur, Mike Smith, 50-1; Riviera Cocktail, Edgar Prado, 20-1; Woodbourne, Chantal Sutherland, 30-1; The Usual Q.T., Victor Espinoza, 3-1; Famous Name, Pat Smullen, 6-1 and Grand Adventure, Patrick Husbands, 8-1.

Post-time for the Woodbine Mile is 5:42 p.m. (et). The Northern Dancer Turf, featuring defending winner Marsh Side, will go off at 4:34 p.m. (et) and the Canadian Stakes is slated for 2:30 p.m. (et).

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