TORONTO — American-bred Delta Prince and jockey Javier Castellano will be in familiar surroundings Saturday.
Castellano will be aboard the early 5/2 favourite for the Grade 1 $800,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Less than three months ago, Castellano guided Delta Prince to victory in the Grade 2 $182,350 King Edward Stakes, another mile-long turf race at Woodbine.
"I honestly believe (having run previously at Woodbine) helps," associate trainer Mike Doyle said following the race draw Wednesday at the Toronto oval. "He seemed to really take to the turf course and after he ran here that day, we had it in mind that he'd come back for this."
The King Edward was Delta Prince's first race following a 10-month layoff due to "some small issues.'' The five-year-old American-bred is coming off a second-place finish by a neck in the Grade 1 Fourstardave on Aug. 11 at Saratoga.
"(Trainer) Jimmy (Jerkens) was very keen for him to run in the Fourstardave," Doyle said. "We talked about scratching him when (turf) was soft.
"He just didn't dig the soft turf that great."
According to The Weather Network, there's a 30 per cent chance of rain Saturday but Doyle isn't the least bit concerned.
"Unless it rains a lot, it (Woodbine's E.P. Taylor turf course) won't be soft," he said. "It will just have a little give in it and he'd love that."
Delta Prince, owned by Stronach Stable, will break from the No. 3 post in the nine-horse field Saturday. Delta Prince has drawn inside of 7/2 second choice Oscar Performance (No. 7 post) and European horse Lord Glitters, the 4/1 third pick (No. 6 post).
"I think it's fine," Doyle said of the No. 3 post. "A little bit further out would've been preferable but it is what it is.
"It's going a mile. He's got plenty of time down the backstretch to get to where he needs top be."
The field will include two Canadian-bred horses: Mr Havercamp, a 6/1 pick trained by Catherine Day Phillips and Vanish, a 20/1 longshot trained by Vito Armata, who conditioned T.J.'s Lucky Moon, the '02 Queen's Plate winner at stunning 82/1 odds.
The field, with post, horse, jockey and early odds, includes: 1) Good Samaritan, Joel Rosario, 10/1; 2) La Sardane, Rafael Bejarano, 15/1; 3) Delta Prince, Castellano, 5/2; 4) Vanish, Ademar Santos, 20/1; 5) Mr Havercamp, Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 6/1; 6) Lord Glitters, Jamie Spencer, 4/1; 7) Oscar Performance, Jose Ortiz, 7/2; 8) Divisidero, Jevian Toledo, 8/1; and 9) Stormy Antarctic, Gerald Mosse, 8/1.
Canadian Olympic sprint medallist Andre De Grasse served as guest drawmaster Wednesday and will be on hand Saturday to watch his first-ever race live. He even expects to lay a bet, that is, after doing a little research.
"They'll go a mile Saturday and that's a lot longer than what I do," De Grasse said. "I think I'm going to watch a couple of videos on some of the horses and see who looks the best ... then I'll place a bet that way."
Delta Prince might be a good place for De Grasse to start. He's finished in the money in his nine career starts (four wins, two seconds, three thirds).
"I'd expect the trend to continue," Doyle said. "He's run in this level of race so he fits.
"I think he's got a great jock, a jock has won on him here and rode him in Saratoga. I don't think you could have anybody better on the horse."
The race winner will secure a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, which will be run Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. In 2017, Woodbine Mile champion World Approval also captured the Breeders’ Cup Mile, joining Wise Dan (2012, 2013) as the only horses to accomplish that feat.
Oscar Performance is a three-time Grade 1 winner, including the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile turf event. The four-year-old was off for more than seven months before winning the Grade 3 Poker, a mile-long turf race, June 17 at Belmont.
But jockey Jose Ortiz Jr. pulled up the horse Aug. 11 in the Arlington Million, feeling the colt had taken a bad step. However Oscar Performance has received a clean bill of health and breezed three times leading up to this race.
Lord Glitters will make his first start in North America on Saturday for trainer David O’Meara, who captured the 2015 Woodbine Mile with Mondialiste. The five-year-old gelding won the York’s Group 3 Strensall, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, Aug. 25.
Mondialiste also won that event prior to capturing the Mile.
Mr Havercamp will attempt to become the first Ontario-bred and sired horse to win the Mile since Rahy’s Attorney in 2008. His sire, Court Vision, won the Woodbine Mile in 2010 and Breeders’ Cup Mile the following year.
Mr. Havercamp has won six of nine career starts and two of three in 2018. He's also hit the winner's circle in four of six turf races in his career.
Vanish will look to become the first claimed horse to win the Woodbine Mile. He was claimed for $40,000 by Eight Star Racing Stables on July 28 and has finished in the money in seven of 10 career races (three wins, three seconds, one third).
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press