By Nicholas Godfrey
Last year’s Preakness Stakes winner War Of Will takes on reigning Canadian horse of the year Starship Jubilee in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile, the Can$1 million highlight of this weekend’s North American programme.
Woodbine also hosts a pair of G1 events on turf for two-year-olds on Sunday in the Summer and Natalma Stakes, but Saturday’s second feature comes in New York with the Belmont Oaks Invitational. Ex-French G3 winner Magic Attitude, fifth behind Fancy Blue in the Prix de Diane, meets Godolphin’s Saratoga Oaks winner Antoinette.
Woodbine: Ricoh Woodbine Mile G1 Can$1m, 1m, turf, 3yo+ (10.39pm BST)
March To The Arch: “I was extremely impressed with his last win and more importantly, he’s come back and trained very well. We’ve had tremendous success with Patrick [Husbands] over the years and he’s also had great success for Live Oak. It was a perfect match.” Mark Casse (trainer)
Olympic Runner: “He’s a horse that’s just become better and better, We just feel like the mile will suit him well, but he still has to prove he fits in the calibre of March To The Arch and War Of Will.” Mark Casse (trainer)
Shirl’s Speight: “He missed a work but I kept him galloping and galloping and he had a very good work [Tuesday] morning. This is still a big step, but it’s better than the alternative – there was the dirt, the ship, I couldn’t send help with him.” Roger Attfield (trainer)
Starship Jubilee: “You can see that she seems like she enjoys winning. She has that desire and she has that feisty attitude in the morning. I think, especially with fillies, that attitude carries over to the afternoon. When I look at her, she’s tiny – definitely not big. She’s fierce, she’s feisty and she just has this mental approach and attitude – she goes out there and wants to do everything hard and fast. She loves what she does. She’s a true competitor – loves to train, loves to run and enjoys what she does. She’s a fabulous mare.” Kevin Attard (trainer)
War Of Will: “He’s coming off that nice win in the Maker’s Mark Mile and he’s trained as good as I’ve ever seen him train since that race. We’re expecting him to run well. Rafael [Hernandez] is going to ride him. We had got the call for Rafael for the Mile, two or three weeks before March To The Arch ran so it doesn’t have anything to do with him picking one over the other. He had committed to Gary Barber and War Of Will before he even rode March To The Arch. I don’t want anybody to read anything into it, that they think one is better than the other. It has no bearing.” Mark Casse (trainer)
Belmont Oaks Invitational G1 $250,000, 1m2f, dirt, 3yo fillies (8.04pm BST)
Magic Attitude: “When she ran in the Prix de Diane all the form was very solid – the form is excellent. She arrived here in late July and we liked her right away. She’s not very big, but she’s very athletic. She moves very well on the grass and she’s training very well. We’ve gotten to know her a little bit. It looks like she needs to be covered up, so we put her behind a pacesetter to let her relax and then gallop out strong. When she came to us she was ready to run. We just had to maintain her, so I don’t think that the time off should be a problem.” Arnaud Delacour (trainer)
Neige Blanche: “It was her first race Stateside and although the pace wasn’t very strong, she was a little outpaced the first part of the race but it was still a promising debut and she finished very well. I’m hoping the mile and a quarter on the big track at Belmont Park will be to her liking. Hopefully, she will not be too far back as it’s going to be a small field.” Leonard Powell (trainer)