Woodbine Mile international scouting report: Duke of Hazzard meets old foe Space Traveller

September 15th, 2021

In contrast to the 1 1/2-mile Canadian International S. (G1), the Woodbine Mile S. (G1) has been a much tougher spot for European shippers to crack. Only two have managed to beat the North American-based contingent — Trade Storm (2014) and Mondialiste (2015).

If this year’s European hope, Duke of Hazzard, doesn’t bring a compelling résumé to reverse the trend, he has some smart bits of form. That puts him in the mix in this Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) “Win and You’re In" qualifier.

Before we dive into the scouting report, recent British import Space Traveller warrants a mention, especially since he defeated Duke of Hazzard a couple times across the pond. Space Traveller joined Brendan Walsh for the Mister D. S. (G1), and, as noted in the Arlington scouting report, he “could be the type to rejuvenate his career stateside.” His Mister D. performance confirmed that idea, as he offered a sneaky rally for fourth.

Space Traveller took a stab in the dark at 1 1/4 miles at Arlington, but the Woodbine Mile is a more logical fit. Expats have had success in the Woodbine Mile in the past, although you have to go back to the 1998-2006 time frame to find a clutch of five winners who fit that profile. That total rises if you include a couple Kentucky-breds who started their careers abroad before repatriation, such as Ventura (2009).

Duke of Hazzard’s pedigree and connections

From the sire line of Storm Cat/Giant’s Causeway, Duke of Hazzard is a son of Lope de Vega, whose progeny adapt to North American conditions. Lope de Vega has sired two Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winners, Newspaperofrecord (2018) and Aunt Pearl (2020), and his Lope Y Fernandez finished a close third in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Duke of Hazzard was bred in France by a Kentucky institution, Runnymede Farm and Catesby Clay. His dam, the Invincible Spirit mare With Your Spirit, is a half to Group 1 winner Palace Episode. This is the celebrated family founded by Kazadancoa, ancestress of turf champ Lady Eli and Duke of Hazzard’s nearer relatives, 1995 Kentucky Derby (G1) runner-up Tejano Run and Spring in the Air.

Owned by Mrs. Fitri Hay, who campaigned champion Cape Blanco and Deauville with Coolmore, Duke of Hazzard is trained by Paul and Oliver Cole. Paul Cole is best known as the trainer of British star Generous, but he also had transatlantic success in the early 1990s. He sent out two major winners at Woodbine, Ruby Tiger in the 1990 E.P. Taylor S. (G2) and Snurge in the 1992 Rothmans (now Canadian) International. Also, Paul Cole’s Ibn Bey finished second to Unbridled, at 38-1, in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

Duke of Hazzard’s racing career

Third in Royal Ascot’s Chesham S. as a maiden, Duke of Hazzard ended his busy juvenile campaign on a high, when he took the 2018 Prix Isonomy at Deauville. He returned to France on the classic trail in the spring of 2019 but couldn’t get near Persian King when third in the Prix de Fontainebleu (G3) and fifth in the French 2000 Guineas (G1).

Overtaken by Space Traveller when fifth in the Jersey S. (G3), on the cutback to seven furlongs, Duke of Hazzard responded to blinkers to reel off a three-race win streak at a mile. At Newmarket, in the Sir Henry Cecil S., Duke of Hazzard pulled a bit early but stormed home late.

His biggest victories followed at Goodwood. Duke of Hazzard was stuck in traffic in the Thoroughbred S. (G3), had to wait to steer out, and still got up. He made it three straight in the Celebration Mile S. (G2) over the same course and distance, even though he over raced as an early stalker.

Duke of Hazzard’s progress has stalled since, and he has gone winless for the past two years. His best results of 2020 were a third to the excellent Mohaather in the Summer Mile S. (G2) at Ascot and a second to Godolphin’s top-class Space Blues in the seven-furlong Lennox S. (G2) at Goodwood. After a pair of too-bad-to-be-true runs, he underwent a procedure to correct a breathing issue (“wind surgery”).

After a ring-rusty seventh in the April 28 Paradise S. at Ascot, Duke of Hazzard was ready for the June 5 Diomed S. (G3) at Epsom, only to be compromised by a luckless trip, and finished fourth. That made him the even-money favorite on the six-day turnaround in the Ganton S. at York, which turned out to be an unusually run race. There was a tearaway early leader in a four-horse field. Duke of Hazzard found himself outkicked again by Space Traveller, and he ended up third, in a photo with the pacesetter.

Back to seven furlongs in the June 26 Criterion S. (G3) at Newmarket, Duke of Hazzard settled for another third, to distance specialist Glorious Journey. He was on the go in August, with three races in 16 days. The two bookends were forgettable — a sixth in the Aug. 12 Sovereign S. (G3) at Salisbury and a seventh in the Aug. 28 Celebration Mile last time out — but the effort in between is of much greater interest.

In the Aug. 21 Strensall S. (G3) at York, Duke of Hazzard stretched out to about 1 1/8 miles and placed third, behind Godolphin’s budding star Real World and Group 1 veteran Lord Glitters. He improved into contention, before the final furlong stretched him a bit, which was understandable, since Real World clocked a strong 1:47.66. Duke of Hazzard lost second to the late-running Lord Glitters and barely salvaged third in a photo.

Although Duke of Hazzard is more yeoman than star, he can prosper in a strongly run mile on good or firm ground.