Prior to Sunday's Atto Mile (gr. IT), the biggest knock on TNT Stud's Leroidesanimaux is that all of his previous North American wins had been relatively close races. In winning his eighth straight, the Bobby Frankel pupil took care of that with an authoritative performance on a soft course at Woodbine.
Leroidesanimaux, regarded as the top turf miler on the continent, left the field far behind at the head of the stretch under John Velazquez to become the first Brazilian bred to win the Atto Mile. Making his first appearance on soft going, the 5-year-old son of Candy Stripes completed the one-turn event in 1:35 while winning by an Atto-record 7 3/4 lengths.
The grand chestnut, sent off at odds of 3-5, didn't go gate to wire but he took over from Royal Regalia after an opening quarter mile in :23 and led the field the rest of the way through splits of :45 4/5 and 1:10 1/5. He received his biggest challenge from the sprinter Sophia's Prince, who edged up on his outside on the turn. But Velazquez gave Leroidesanimaux, the 124-pound high weight, a crack with the whip coming off the turn and they quickly pulled away.
"I was going from post one so I wanted to make sure he broke well and got a good position," said Velazquez. "After that, I just kind of sat on him. Coming to the quarter-pole, I just shook him up and he responded right away. I shook the whip at him, hit him one time and he just kept opening up on the field. I just kept him busy. He did it pretty easy."
Leroidesanimaux, who went over the $1 million mark in career earnings Sunday, is expected to be the favorite in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Belmont Park on Oct. 29, but owners TNT Stud will have to pay a supplementary fee, reportedly $135,000.
"It gives us plenty of time if we're going to go to the Breeders' Cup," Frankel said. "He runs well fresh. Obviously we did the right thing. I'm sure the owner wants to supplement (to the Breeders' Cup) and if he's doing really well, we'll probably go. The only concern today, which will be in the Breeders' Cup, too, at Belmont, was the soft ground. At least that's one good thing we got out of the way, that he can handle soft ground."
Frankel and Velazquez teamed to win the Atto Mile with longshot Riviera in 2000. Frankel became the first trainer to win the Queen's Plate (Wild Desert) and Atto in the same year.
"He's got to rank up there with the better turf horses that I've ever trained, because he never gets beat," Frankel said. "When you have a horse like that, you've got to consider him one of the best you've ever trained."
Mobil closed from far back on the extreme outside in the stretch to finish second under Patrick Husbands, and Le Cinquieme Essai also rallied late for third with Steve Bahen aboard. Veteran English runner Vanderlin finished fourth in the field of nine. Second choice King of Happiness tracked the winner in third to the turn before backing out of contention.
After winning six races in a row on the Southern California circuit, including a pair of grade I starts, Leroidesanimaux returned from nearly six months off to set a track record at Saratoga in winning the 1 1/16-mile Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 27.
He now boasts a record of nine wins in 12 career starts with earnings of $1,344,337.
Leroidesanimaux paid $3.30, $2.80, and $2.20 and teamed with the longshot Mobil ($13.10, $6.60) - a Woodbine specialist with five career wins on the Toronto turf - for a $58 exacta. Le Cinquieme Essai ($5.30) completed a trifecta worth $198.85.
After Vanderlin, the order of finish was King of Happiness, Awesome Action, Sophia's Prince, A to the Z and Royal Regalia.