Cityscape sets sights on Woodbine Mile
Cityscape, along with the other European raiders for the Mile, Dance and Dance and Worthadd, arrived late Saturday night at Woodbine. That trio was accompanied to Toronto by weekend competitors Wigmore Hall (defending champion of the Grade 1 Northern Dancer), Barefoot Lady (Grade 2 Canadian) and Fearless Jacq (Grade 3 Natalma).
Juddmonte won the 2009 Mile with another homebred, Ventura, the only mare to win the race, while Labeeb is the sole British-bred to record a victory, taking the 1998 edition.
Cityscape will be ridden once again by James Doyle.
In other Woodbine Mile news:
His price tag was $3,500, he could have been claimed on three occasions but wasn't. Now, Riding the River will contest Sunday's Woodbine Mile for the second consecutive year.
Riding the River, who finished fifth to Turallure in the 2011 Woodbine Mile, has exceeded expectations at every turn of his 19-race career for trainer David Cotey, who co-owns the five-year-old bay with Hugh Galbraith and Linmac Farms.
"We didn't pay much for him, but I liked his look," Cotey recalled. "Now, if you asked me if I would have ever dreamt he'd turn out to be this good, I would have said, 'No way.'"
The Kentucky-bred gelding could have been claimed off his first two starts in 2010, both wins, but didn't attract any attention. He also could have been claimed in his fifth start, in September of 2010, but stayed in Cotey's barn.
An eight-time winner from 19 starts, along with nearly $650,000 in career earnings, Riding the River isn't going anywhere these days, other than in the starting gate for the Mile.
"It's never really dawned on me that someone could have claimed him and we wouldn't be where we are. All I can say is that I won't be doing that again."
To be ridden by champion jockey Todd Kabel, Riding the River comes into the Mile in solid form. He took the Grade 2 King Edward on June 24, Queen's Plate day, at 13-1, then followed it up with another neck win, at 9-1, in the Grade 2 Nijinsky. He comes into the Mile off a runner-up finish to rival Big Band Sound in the Grade 2 Play the King on August 26, where he closed strongly despite being blocked at the head of the stretch.
"He's a small horse, but he's got a big heart," Cotey said of the son of Wiseman's Ferry, who just happens to be the sire of likely Woodbine Mile favorite, Wise Dan. "He's been in tight spots, tough situations, yet he still manages to find a way to gut it out. It doesn't always make it easy on the blood pressure, but I'll tell you this, you wish you had 20 of him in your barn."
Aside from Wise Dan, the European trio and Riding the River, the Woodbine Mile field is also expected to include Artic Fern, Big Band Sound, Hollinger and Hunters Bay.
Rosie MacLennan, Canada's lone gold medallist at the recent 2012 London Olympics, will draw post positions for the Woodbine Mile at a noon (EDT) press conference on Thursday at Woodbine's east-end VIP tent.
MacLennan, from King City, won her gold in the Individual Trampoline, an event in which she is a three-time Canadian champion.
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