Shirl’s Speight, War Bomber Prominent in G1 Woodbine Mile

September 14, 2023

Shirl’s Speight ahead of his victory in last year’s Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland (Coady Photography)

Winner Gains Automatic Berth into $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile

Breeders’ Cup Press Release

TORONTO— Shirl’s Speight, runner-up in last year’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), and local turf star War Bomber (IRE) lead the six-horse field for Saturday’s $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) at Woodbine Racetrack in Canada, live on NBC and Peacock beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The race winner will earn a free berth into this year’s $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In.

The Ricoh Woodbine Mile, for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on turf, headlines the second program this year in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In” on NBC, CNBC, and Peacock from North America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 40th Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 3-4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. The complete series viewing schedule can be accessed here.

Saturday’s broadcast will also include the 1-mile Johnnie Walker Natalma Stakes (G1) at 1 mile on the turf, which precedes the Woodbine Mile. The Natalma Stakes winner will receive an automatic starting position into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion from analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, reporter Britney Eurton, and handicappers Eddie Olcyzk and Matt Bernier.

Charles Fipke’s Shirl’s Speight, a 6-year-old trained by Roger Attfield, made up huge ground in the stretch of last year’s FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland, finishing just three-quarters of a length behind Modern Games (IRE), who also won the 2022 Ricoh Woodbine Mile. Shipped overseas for races at the start of this year, Shirl’s Speight finished 9th in the February Stakes (G1) at Tokyo Racecourse in February and ran fourth in the Dubai Turf (G1) at Meydan in March. Making his home debut this season at Woodbine on Aug. 19, Shirl’s Speight finished fourth in the 1-mile King Edward Gold Cup (G2) as the 9-5 favorite. John Velazquez will ride Shirl’s Speight from post three. The Hall of Fame jockey has won five editions of the Woodbine Mile and also rode two of those winners – Da Hoss and Wise Dan – to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Bruno Schickedanz’s 5-year-old gelding War Bomber won the King Edward by a neck, stalking the pace and holding off Treason to register his seventh victory at Woodbine, and his first triumph this year in four starts. Trained by Norm McKnight, War Bomber will try to improve on his ninth-place finish in last year’s race. Rico Walcott has the mount, breaking from post two.

Trainer Charlie Appleby saddled Modern Games to victory in last year’s race and later in November to victory in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile. This year, Appleby has entered Godolphin’s 5-year-old gelding Master of the Seas (IRE), who will be making his North American debut. A winner twice in four starts this year, Master of the Seas returned from a 3 1/2-month layoff with a rousing 4-length victory in the July 15 Fred Crowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile Stakes (G2) at Ascot in England. William Buick has the mount breaking from post one.

Trainer Mark Casse, a two-time winner of both the Woodbine Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Mile, has entered three horses, led by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, and Peter Deutsch’s Ice Chocolat (BRZ), who will be making his second attempt this summer to earn a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series berth in the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile. On Aug. 12 at Saratoga Race Course, Ice Chocolat delivered a solid third-place performance, defeated by less than two lengths, behind Casa Creed and Annapolis in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1). Joel Rosario will ride Ice Chocolat from post four.

Completing the field are Casse’s other starters: Gary Barber’s My Sea Cottage (IRE), fourth in the Fourstardave, and Pantofel Stable, LLC, Wachtel Stable, and Barber’s Canadian-bred Lucky Score, third in the King Edward Stakes. Dylan Davis will ride My Sea Cottage from post five and Sahin Civaci has the mount on Lucky Score from stall six.

A field of 15 has been entered for the Natalma Stakes, for 2-year-old fillies, and is led by the first two finishers from Woodbine’s Aug. 20 listed Catch A Glimpse Stakes, when X-Men Racing 3, StarLadies Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, and SF Racing LLC’s Airosa defeated Gary Barber and D.J. Stable LLC’s Ready to Jam by 1 length.

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