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Sep 12, 2014

Up the Backstretch: No Wise Dan means Woodbine Mile wide open

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - For the first time since 2011 a thoroughbred other than Wise Dan will win Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile.

The two-time Horse of the Year raced just two weeks ago at Saratoga as he was making his return to the track by winning the Bernard Baruch after missing time following intestinal surgery.

The Woodbine Mile will have 11 turf runners leaving the starting gate at about 6:15 p.m. ET with a spot in this November's Breeders' Cup Mile reserved for the winning horse. Wise Dan, of course, also won the last two BC Miles with that race again a probable target for the 7-year-old gelding.

The top returning horse from last year's Woodbine Mile is third-place finisher Trade Storm, trained by David Simcock for Qatar Racing. Based overseas, the 6- year-old is the 6-1 fourth pick in the program while winless in six starts this year.

"Trade Storm is in good form in preparation for this race - he had a break after running in Dubai earlier in the year and has progressed with his most recent two starts," said Simcock. "A mile is good for him, he prefers good ground or faster."

Getting the nod as the 5-2 morning line favorite is 4-year-old gelding Kaigun, trained by Woodbine's Mark Casse for owners Gary Barber, Quintessential Racing Florida and Horse'n Around Racing Stable. Although Casse is an all-time great at Woodbine, he will be saddling a horse for the first time in the Mile.

Kaigun notched his first career stakes victory last month in Woodbine's Play the King Stakes after losing the United Nations Handicap in July at Monmouth Park as the 3-1 favorite.

"I was worried about cutting him back from a mile and three-eighths to seven- eighths," explained Casse, about going from the United Nations to the Play the King. "I thought he was very impressive. I think probably he might be a better miler but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. He can do anything. I don't know if he's any better now than he was in the spring but his last race was powerful. We gelded him (after winning his turf debut a year ago). That really helped, too."

Barber also has 7-2 second choice Jack Milton, trained by Todd Pletcher, in the Mile. The 4-year-old won the one-mile Poker Stakes at Belmont Park on May 26 and mostly recently was a close-up fifth in the Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita and lost a length decision in the Fourstardave at Saratoga on August 9.

Grand Arch, trained by Brian Lynch, is the 4-1 third choice for Sunday after getting second to Seek Again in the Fourstardave, beaten a neck. The 5-year- old gelding won the King Edward Stakes at Woodbine on June 22.

"That was a tough one to lose," noted Lynch of the Fourstardave. "He gave everything he had and fought right to the wire. That's what you love to see in a horse, one that won't give up at any point. And he was just superb in the King Edward, too. The bigger the race, the bigger the effort you get from him. And that's certainly what has happened over his past two starts."

Those are the only Mile entrants whose opening odds are less than 10-1. If you're looking for a price on a horse may I suggest 15-1 3-year-old Bobby's Kitten.

Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Bobby's Kitten, trained by Chad Brown, will attempt to become the first 3-year-old to win the Mile.

"A mile, mile and a sixteenth is his limit," said Brown about the front- running colt.

Bobby's Kitten is a veteran of just nine career starts, but has finished in the money in seven of his races and has been the favorite in all but one. He was the 13-10 favorite in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf when he finished third after fighting for the lead. He had won the Pilgrim Stakes prior to that start to gain the favorite's position.

The 3-year-old was given a chance to be on the Kentucky Derby trail this year, but finished 12th on Keeneland's synthetic main track in the Blue Grass Stakes in which he was the 7-2 favorite. He returned to the turf with a victory in the Penn Mile followed by an eighth in the Belmont Derby and last month set the pace before getting second in Saratoga's Hall of Fame Stakes.

"He's a nice horse to be around, but it's been a little frustrating at times," Brown said. "In the Hall of Fame, he started the race okay the first quarter but the second quarter he got away from the jock a little bit. I was hoping we'd accomplish a little bit more than we have this year with him but that said, the horse has run well and he looks really good right now. Hopefully there's a race out there that has his name on it when we get him back to the right distance. He's a very talented horse."

Sunday's Woodbine Mile may not have the glamour it could have had if Wise Dan were running, but 11 top level runners will leave the gate and provide competition worthy of a Breeders' Cup Challenge race.

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