By Anthony Stabile
$2 million; 1 mile (T); 3up
Where should I begin?!?! Four horses have won multiple runnings, starting with Miesque beating the boys in 1987 and 1988. The speedy Lure won back to back runnings in 1992 and 1993 before failing to accomplish the three-peat in 1994. Da Hoss, amazingly, won it in 1996, ran once in between then re-rallied in the final strides to win it two years later in 1998. And, of course, Goldikova won three in a row from 2008 through 2010 before finishing third in 2011. In 2012, Wise Dan capped off his Horse of the Year campaign with a popular Mile score over 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and came back to defend his Mile title in 2013.
Wise Dan was supposed to add to that history with his attempt at a three-peat at the ripe old age of 7 but an ankle injury has not only declared him from this but has also left his future in doubt. With Wise Dan away, the proverbial cats will play as the Mile drew 25 pre entries last week. After final entries, we’re left with 15 runners including an also eligible.
Perhaps the horse most affected by the absence of Wise Dan is Toronado as his trainer Richard Hannon announced he’d be coming to the Mile the day after Wise Dan’s injury was announced. More than a coincidence one would think. Still, Toronado sports strong form, especially at the distance and will likely be sent to post as the favorite.
He’ll look to help the Euros, and perhaps betting favorites, in playing a bit of historical catch-up as favorites are 11 for 30 while U.S. runners hold an 18-12 edge over their European counterparts. In three starts this season, all at a mile, Toronado defeated Verrazano (yes, THAT Verrazano) in the G1 Queen Anne at Royal Ascot then finished second to the great Kingman in the G1 Sussex, a race he was as a sophomore last year, and in the Prix du Moulin last out by a head to Charm Spirit.
Seek Again will look to overcome his penchant for finding trouble in his races for trainer Bill Mott and will almost certainly have a say in the outcome should he accomplish the feat. He gave Wise Dan all he could handle when second by a head in the G1 Turf Classic on Derby Day at Churchill, his first start since taking the G1 Hollywood Derby in his U.S. debut and won the G2 Fourstardave at Saratoga after a miserable trip two starts back. He had another brutal journey in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland when beaten just four lengths most recently.
Tom’s Tribute will look to defend his home turf in what will be his first start in just over two months. After a bit of a slow start to his season for Jim Cassidy, Tom’s Tribute has won three of his last four including the G1 Eddie Read and G2 Del Mar Mile, both at Del Mar, most recently.
Another Californian, Obviously, will be running in this for the third straight year. Third in 2012, Obviously tired to fifth in last years’ renewal. He’s two for three this year, with wins in both the G3 American and G1 Shoemaker Mile coming before a shocking fourth place finish at 2-5 in the Del Mar Mile last out for trainer Phil D’Amato.
Goldikova’s little brother Anodin is eligible for a second level allowance contest and is winless in his last eight but has hit the board in a series of graded stakes in Europe for Freddie Head, who has won this twice as a jockey aboard Miesque and three times as a trainer with Goldikova.
Trade Storm overcame a poor break and some traffic trouble to grab the G1 Woodbine Mile by a half-length last out in his first U.S. start since finishing third behind Wise Dan in that race last year for David Simcock. That was his first win from seven tries this year and it seems the Lasix helps his cause.
Grand Arch has taken some tough beats this year for trainer Brian Lynch. His win in the G2 King Edward at Woodbine is his lone score from six tries this season but he has missed but just a neck in the Fourstardave, was a wide fifth in the Woodbine Mile and second in the Shadwell last out by just a length when he failed to capitalize on his rivals rough journeys.
Mark Casse will send out Kaigun for his tenth start of the year in the Mile. He was second to Wise Dan in the G1 Makers 46 Mile by less than a length back in the spring, second in the G1 Manhattan when the 10 furlongs proved to be a bit too far for him and a hard charging second in the Woodbine Mile two starts back. Last out he was a non-threatening fourth in the Shadwell.
A trio of European sophomores round out the Euro contingent. Karakontie failed to fire in his last pair against G1 runners for Jonathon Pease, including last out in the Prix de la Foret, his first start against older. Mustajeeb was second in the G2 Boomerang Mile in Ireland for Dermot Weld last out after winning the G3 Jersey at Royal Ascot in June. The filly Veda just missed when second in the G2 Wildenstein at Longchamp last out and will be seeking her first stakes score for Alain De-Royer Dupre.
Mott will also send out the three-year-old Tourist, second most recently in the G1 Secretariat behind the multiple G1 winning globe-trotter Adelaide. Tourist cuts back to his favorite distance for this as he is undefeated in his two starts at a mile. Summer Front makes his first start in over three months for Christophe Clement off a pair of place finishes in the Shoemaker Mile and Eddie Read. He won the G2 Ft. Lauderdale this past winter at Gulfstream. Sayaad is winless in four tries against graded stakes foes but was fourth in the G1 Baruch and third in the Shadwell last out for Kiaran McLaughlin.
Also eligible Mr. Commons hasn’t won for trainer John Shirreffs in over two and a half years but does have an affinity for this course as evident by his second place finish in the G2 City of Hope last out and a pair of G2 scores back in 2011.