In a heart-pounding finish to the $1,025,981 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) (VIDEO) , Turallure, a son of 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando, got up at the wire in his Woodbine debut Sept. 18.
With the victory, Turallure earned a starting berth in the $2 million TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs as part of the Breeders' Cup challenge series.
Last leaving the turn on a firm Woodbine turf course for jockey Julien Leparoux, Turallure found room near mid-stretch to angle wide. He closed furiously to upset 11-10 choice Courageous Cat at odds of 6-1. French-bred Right One finished a close third in the field of 12. The winning time was 1:34.92.
This was the first win in the Woodbine Mile for owner and breeder 4-D Stables, trainer Chuck Lopresti, and Leparoux, who also captured the Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT) earlier on the Woodbine card.
The quickly developing 4-year-old gray/roan colt won the Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga impressively over nine furlongs in his prior start Aug. 26 for his first graded stakes win.
"We’ve trained him real light because this is close bringing him back off that (last) race," Lopresti said. "So I didn’t do much with him. He’s been here all week and galloped every morning. We just wanted to keep him fresh, especially cutting back to one mile.”
Lopresti and owner Donna Arnold said Turallure would be pointed to the Breeders' Cup.
As expected, Sky Classic (Can-IIT) winner Kara's Orientation jumped out to a good early advantage as Woodbourne and Courageous Cat tracked in second and third. The fractions on the firm course were solid -- Kara's Orientation stepped the opening quarter-mile in :23.83, the half in :47.11, and six furlongs in 1:11.03.
Courageous Cat was anxious to go and jockey Patrick Valenzuela allowed him to challenge for the lead rounding the bend. Courageous Cat took over heading for the home stretch as the pacesetter gave way and Riding the River, Side Glance, and Hollinger took up the chase.
Turallure, last swinging for home when blocked late on the turn, had plenty of work to do as he toiled along the rail. But Leparoux found an opening allowing him to thread Turallure between foes into the clear on the outside behind the leaders. With nothing but open space in front of him, Turallure mowed down his rivals and had just enough time to reach the wire an instant ahead of Courageous Cat.
"We left from the outside, so I just took him back and saved all the ground around the turn," Leparoux said. "There was a lot of traffic, but I was able to get out and he ran great. He was big today.
“It was very close," he said of the finish. "I didn’t really know (at the end). It looked like I got it, but you don’t want to be happy until you are sure you win it.”
Courageous Cat, who was battling the surging Right One as well as British invader Side Glance in deep stretch, had the lead in the final strides but was forced to settle for second. Winner of the Shoemaker Mile (gr. IT) at Hollywood Park July 2, he lost for the first time in three tries this year but remains a major threat for the Breeders' Cup Mile.
"I was hoping he would relax a little longer," said Valenzuela, who said he was happy with the trip Courageous Cat had. "He picked it up going into that turn. I was trying to get him to relax without choking him too much because he does have a little bit of a breathing problem. He was relaxed and ran a very good race."
Right One, who arrived in the United States from France this spring for trainer Christophe Clement, lost for just the second time in five American starts. With Garrett Gomez aboard for the first time, Right One rallied from well back only to be blocked in upper stretch before making his strong late bid. Right One had not raced since claiming a nose victory in the Jaipur Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park July 16.
It was one length back to Side Glance, a group III winner over one mile for British trainer Andrew Balding at Salisbury in his most recent start. He was followed by Riding the River, Dance and Dance, 2010 Woodbine Mile winner Court Vision , Hollinger, Grand Adventure, Forte Dei Marmi, Kara's Orientation, and Woodbourne.
Turallure, out of the Wekiva Springs mare Personal Allure, became the sixth Kentucky-bred to win the Woodbine Mile. This was his third win in six starts in 2011, and his sixth victory since he broke his maiden at Ellis Park 13 months ago. His overall mark stands at 6-2-3 in 15 starts with earnings of $907,465. The Woodbine Mile winner's share was worth $613,380.
This was his second win in three starts at one mile on turf.
“We talked about the sweeping turns and the long stretch," Lopresti said. "We thought if we could get a mile race, this would be the kind of configuration to do it at.”
He carried 121 pounds and paid $14.90, $5.90, $4.10 as the distant second choice.
Courageous Cat, the 124-pound high weight saddled by Bill Mott, returned $3.10 and $2.90 and completed a $42.30 exacta. Mott was seeking his first win in the Woodbine Mile since winning the inaugural running with Geri in 1997.
The show price on Right One was $4.90.