All Eyes On Woodbine This Weekend

A slew of graded races will top the huge weekend at Woodbine Race Course this weekend, led by the $1 million Woodbine Mile (Can-G1). Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan has been untested in going unbeaten this campaign and will hope to defend his title for conditioner Charles Lopresti.

Wise Dan turned in a tour de force in the 2012 Woodbine Mile, romping by 3 1/4 lengths, and he hasn't lost since. The Morton Fink homebred capped his championship campaign in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Mile in record time at Santa Anita.

Trade Storm is a cut below the best European milers, but the closer excelled at Meydan earlier this season, and could find Woodbine congenial. Formerly just a handicapper, the David Simcock charge burst onto the international scene at the Dubai World Cup Carnival with a pair of devastating successes. After blowing away handicap foes on February 14, he disposed of a more accomplished field, including Musir, in the March 2 Zabeel Mile. Trade Storm then showed that he could hold his own at the Group 1 level when fourth in the March 30 Dubai Duty Free. The runner-up in the Duty Free, The Apache, was recently first past the post in the Arlington Million, only to be demoted to second for interference.

Hall of Famer Gary Stevens picks up the mount on Trade Storm, an 8-1 chance on the morning line.

Za Approval, another who prefers quicker conditions, was rerouted here after being scratched from the August 31 Bernard Baruch at a soggy Saratoga. A half-brother to 2006 Breeders' Cup Mile upsetter and champion turf horse Miesque's Approval, he has been in the form of his life this year for Christophe Clement. The Live Oak Plantation homebred captured the March 30 Appleton at Gulfstream and the May 18 Red Bank at Monmouth, and finished second to front-running Obviously in the June 29 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood in his latest venture. Za Approval has been pegged as the 4-1 second choice with new rider Garrett Gomez.

The remaining three entrants served up the trifecta in the local prep, the seven-furlong Play the King on August 25 -- Dimension, Excaper and Riding the River.

Also on the Sunday card is the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf (Can-G1). Among the notables in this 1 ½-mile turf test include globetrotting star and defending champ Wigmore Hall, United Nations (G1) and Sword Dancer (G1) victor Big Blue Kitten, Sword Dancer second Twilight Eclipse, Secretariat S. (G1) second Stormy Len, the impressive Slumber, two-for-two since arriving in the U. S., Euro stakes winner Nutello, Sky Classic (Can-G2) hero Forte dei Marmi and Al Khali, a close second in this race a year ago.

Also on Sunday is the $300,000 Canadian S. (Can-G2) and the $150,000 Ontario Derby (Can-G3).

The Saturday card will be led by a pair of grassy races for juveniles; the $200,000 Summer S. (Can-G2) for the boys and the $200,000 Natalma S. (Can-G2), for two-year-old fillies.

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