One of the highlights of the Woodbine racing season is the $1 million Woodbine Mile (G1) for older horses going one mile on the turf. The winner earns a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile field as part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" series. The weather Sunday afternoon was beautiful with lots of sun, a light breeze and the temperature in the upper 60's.
Rain earlier in the week softened the course, rated good at the start of the card but upgraded to firm in time for the two Grade 1 events.
A field of 13 went to post, with European shipper Famous Name sent off as the lukewarm 5-2 favorite off a disappointing 6th place finish in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1), but before that loss he won three straight stakes events, the Heritage, Amethyst (G3), and the Meld Stakes (G3), all at Leopardstown. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice The Usual Q.T., shipping in from California where he won the Eddie Read (G1) on turf before finishing 5th in the Pacific Classic on Polytrack, and 6-1 third choice Victor's Cry, winner of the Shoemaker Mile (G1) before finishing second in the Eddie Read (G1).
Straight Story went to the lead exiting the chute and he got the initial quarter mile in a quick 23.55 while being pressed by Zifzaf 1/2 a length behind. At the end of the long backstretch run Zifzaf poked his head in front through a half mile in 46.53, with Grand Adventure second, Smokey Fire third, and early pacesetter Straight Story fourth in a tight pack. Those four continued to battle on the turn, with grand Adventure gaining a short lead at the 1/4 pole through 3/4 in 1:10.36. This fast pace set the race up for the closers, as The Usual Q.T., who rated in 8th early but just 3 lengths off the pace, moved up to take the lead in mid-stretch. However, Court Vision, who was 8 1/2 lengths back in 12th for the first half mile, came out wide into the stretch to avoid traffic and closed with a rush to pass The Usual Q.T. at the 1/16 pole, drawing off to win by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:34.62. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Woodbourne third, while favorite Famous Name disappointed in 7th.
Also on the card: - the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) and Canadian Stakes (G2)