Speed is a danger in any horse race, as Town Cruise vividly demonstrated in Saturday’s Woodbine Mile (G1) at Woodbine. Dashing to the lead under jockey Daisuke Fukumoto, the six-year-old gelding never looked back on his way to an upset victory.
A capable allowance performer in years past, Town Cruise has elevated his game to a new level in 2021. Fresh off a runner-up effort in the one-mile King Edward S. (G2) at Woodbine—which marked his graded stakes debut—Town Cruise started at 8-1 in the Woodbine Mile, where a favorable pace scenario made all the difference in the outcome.
In the King Edward, Town Cruise carved out fast fractions of :23.33, :45.75, and 1:08.12, setting the stage for a course-record final time of 1:31.73. The fact Town Cruise held on to finish second by just 1 1/4 lengths in the King Edward served as a subtle testament to his talent.
In contrast, the Woodbine Mile unfolded at a pedestrian tempo. Breaking from the rail, Town Cruise was able to secure an uncontested lead through splits of :24.08, :47.10, and 1:10.41 over good ground, with longshot Duke of Hazzard the only rival to take up so much as a tracking position.
As a result, Town Cruise had plenty left for the run down the homestretch. Space Traveller and Raging Bull did their best to close ground, but Town Cruise was always doing enough to win, driving to the finish line on top by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:35.14. In a tight battle for the minor awards, Space Traveller, Raging Bull, and March to the Arch rounded out the top four, followed by Ride a Comet, Duke of Hazzard, Set Piece, Olympic Runner, Avie’s Flatter, and Change of Control.
“This is fantastic,” said Fukumoto. “I am still in awe, it’s an unbelievable feeling. Winning a Grade 1 is my dream, and I got a good horse this year so far. He’s been good all year so far. For me, I am just crazy happy. I had pretty good confidence. I just knew for a shot I had to take (the) front. He went good, I took the lead, and wait and wait and he finished well.”
Bred in Ontario by Terrance Reg Greer and Brandon Evan Greer, Town Cruise is both owned by trained by Brandon Greer, who was quick to praise his star runner’s performance.
“It feels a little surreal at the moment, but I’m absolutely thrilled with him,” Greer told Woodbine. “This horse is amazing. I absolutely love him.
“I could see him digging in, that’s something that he’s been able to do very well this year,” he continued. “Dig in the late stages, even though he’s been in the front. I found it a little difficult to believe right until the final sixteenth and then I can see the other horses just didn’t have enough to catch up there.”
Winning the Woodbine Mile earned Town Cruise a fees-paid berth to the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Del Mar, though Brandon Greer indicated he would wait before deciding whether Town Cruise will seek to become the fifth horse since 2011 to use the Woodbine Mile as a springboard to Breeders’ Cup glory.
“I’m going to have to ask someone very important first, the horse,” said Greer. “We’re going to take a couple of days and just take it slow, take it easy, see how everything is after the race, and then I’ll ask the horse and see what he wants to do.”