Forever Together looms the big favorite and she is a very legitimate choice. I think her last two races were both better than anything the rest of this field has ever run. There are a bunch of intriguing ways to go if you're looking to fill a trifecta ticket underneath Forever Together but for the win slot I can really only make a case for one horse. Forever Together has performed at a very high level and she's working well the only things I see against her is an unfamiliarity with the course and the possibility of traffic problems. Neither of those scare me too much. Woodbine is a wide course and other than first time jockey's moving too soon you don't see many dislike it. Leparoux is pretty cool so I don't foresee a premature swoop into action. But back to my alternate, I actually think that Sealy Hill could be set for a lifetime best performance and that should bring her close. She definitely does not have the same gloss on her record that she did last year at this time but I'm convinced she's a better horse. She ran a close second in this race last year albeit against a weaker group. She has only 1 win in 4 races this year but she's been taking on a different class of horse. In her first she tried the Jenny Wiley and finished 10th but Vacare and Precious Kitten both faltered badly in that race as well. She came back to Woodbine and ran a very well despite having a rough trip. She was drawn down inside and got shuffled way back off a slow pace. Next out she went Hollywood for a match against Zenyatta. No real surprise that it didn't work out. Last time she was phenomenal. It was a weak group to be sure but she got a patient ride and swooped to the lead without ever being asked. In fact her pilot never asked her to run at any point and she earned the best turf figure of her life. If she can move forward off of that she'll give Forever Together a run for her money. I'm quite looking forward to the match up actually.
Northern Dancer Turf Stakes
It's a match up of two of the most lovable turf horses in training. Better Talk Now needs no introduction and Cloudy's Knight had a most remarkable season last year capped off by taking Woodbine's premier race. Sadly both look a little past their best but at least with Better Talk Now you know his name will draw a lot of support so perhaps you can find value elsewhere. It's not that BTN has been getting terrible results but he's slower than he's ever been and a few horses in here are simply better at this stage. Actually I'm not sure how Quijano gets beaten. Figures might suggest that he slightly worse than last year but it's misleading because his last two races came over heavy ground. Hardly any horses look impressive on a bog and he's always preferred a bit of firmness anyhow. There are two horses I'd really fear while betting Quijano. Champs Elysees might be a well documented flop but he's also the only other horse in the same class as the likely winner. Frankel is always dangerous especially off the layoff. If he figured this horse out like he did with First Defense then he could set for a big effort. Seaside Retreat is the other horse I'd take a long look at. He has never really run well enough to beat Quijano at his best but perhaps we don't see him at his best. Seaside Retreat is finally getting back to the level his connections always felt he should be at. He's a serious horse and he ought to be a nice price.
Woodbine Mile Stakes
It's been quite a while since Kip Deville ran a race poor enough to lose to this group but surprisingly the BRISnet figures you'll see in the PP's don't paint a very flattering picture of his efforts at all. Ventura is the logical horse to use against him but I really don't think she's as good as he is. The one thing that will help her is she likely won't get in front so she won't have a chance to loaf around like she did in the Cash Call. She can chase Kip all the way to the line. Skimming over some past results of this race do embolden me a bit to take a shot against him. Most of the horses who have run well were not coming in straight off the shelf. They all had a recent race. Another thing I noticed is that pure two turn milers like Kip Deville have sometimes struggled. I know Labeeb, Touch of the Blues and Good Journey were pure milers who managed to succeed but many of the winners were either better at 7f or 8.5f. My theory is that Woodbine being a unique formation plays differently than traditional mile courses thus negating the usual specialist bias I often trumpet. I think a case can be made on the behalf of Just Rushing. He's been a solid horse against worse competition and his figures are improving. He's certainly the local horse of the moment. But I actually don't trust him so while I do think he's got a good shot I won't use him on top. The longshot I've sort of cast my eye upon is Rahy's Attorney. The best value is usually found when a horse has muddled form because their recent races came at conditions they weren't totally suited for. Rahy's Attorney fits that bill. Right after his best lifetime effort which came at 8.5f his connections stepped him up in trip and he's been running 10f or more and even had one race on polytrack where he is 1 for 8. He is a perfect 5 for 5 in turf races at 8.5f or less and he is winless going further. In fact he's 1 for 11 at all other conditions, 8-8.5f on the Turf is unquestionably his best trip and he's actually run some bang up races at those conditions. Not Kip Deville level stuff but still I think his best race certainly puts him in the frame. He's got good tactical speed and a surprisingly good change of gear. The truth is that Kip Deville is still the most likely winner. He's got all the tools you want to see and he's just an efficient horse but this is racing and there is no such thing as a lock.