Kip Deville at Woodbine on Sept 5.

Kip Deville at Woodbine on Sept 5.

Michael Burns

Kip Deville vs. Ventura in Woodbine Mile

Ventura looks to become the first filly to win the Woodbine Mile

Juddmonte Farms’ Ventura has a good chance at becoming the first filly to win the $1-million Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) Sept. 7, but standing in her way is IEAH Stables’ Kip Deville, widely regarded as the best turf miler in North America.

A field of eight was drawn for 12th edition of the prestigious event, which this year became part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In" series. The Woodbine Mile winner will earn an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

Ventura has had a terrific season for trainer Bobby Frankel. The 4-year-old Chester House filly is 3-1-1 from five starts, which have included victories in the Madison (gr. II) on the Keeneland Polytrack and the Just a Games Stakes (gr. IT) on the Belmont turf. Most recently, Ventura was beaten a nose by Diamond Diva in the July 5 CashCall Mile Invitational (gr. IIT) at Hollywood.

“She just got beat an inch, but I think the one-turn mile (at Woodbine) will set up good for her," said Frankel, who has won twice in this event. “I've had five Eclipse Award-winning fillies, but I'd rate her pretty good.”

Overall, Ventura has produced a 6-4-1 record from 13 lifetime starts and earned $631,235.  She began her racing career in England and shipped into the barn of Frankel early this year. Garrett Gomez will retain the mount on the Kentucky homebred who is out of the Be My Guest mare Estala and was installed as the 4-1 second choice. They will break from the far outside.

Ventura and the rest of the field will have to be at their best to take down remarkable Kip Deville. The 5-year-old son of Kipling  enters off a three-race win streak and will be looking to avenge a loss in last year’s Woodbine Mile, where he fell a length short of Shakespeare.

Trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., Kip Deville began his win streak in the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) last year at Monmouth Park. His two victories this season came in the April 11 Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland and the July 13 Poker Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Belmont. Bred in Oklahoma by Center Hill Farms, the gray horse has earned more than $2.6 million from 23 starts and has produced six graded stakes wins.

“He's just been in a zone of his own," said Dutrow. “He's incredible. He's doing unbelievable. I'm just really excited about being able to watch him run again. He certainly appears to be (a better horse than last year). He's just so much more confident in himself. Just feels very good about himself, very proud of himself. He's matured into that type of a horse. He's doing great and right on schedule.”

Kip Deville, who will be ridden once again by Cornelio Velasquez, has been working steadily on the Aqueduct turf. He will break from post 4 and is expected to be the odds-on favorite.

A pair of local horses enter the Woodbine Mile in fine form, Tucci Stables’ Just Rushing and Augustine Stable’s Ice Bear. Installed as the 5-1 third choice, 7-year-old Just Rushing won the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes (Can-IIT) by 1 1/4 lengths Aug. 23 at Woodbine and has made all but one of his 28 career starts at the Canadian racetrack, producing a 12-4-5 record there. The Sid Attard trainee earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure in his latest victory, but comes in with just two weeks rest.

“I still say it's too close, but what are you going to do?” Attard said. “The horse is doing OK, so what the heck? Can lightning strike twice? I don't know.”

Ice Bear enters off a nose victory in the With Approval Stakes for trainer Mac Benson.

Deep closer Wollemi Pine also deserves consideration, as the Ian Black trainee was second in the Play the King and has been graded stakes-placed twice this season.

$1,000,000 Woodbine Mile (gr. IT, Race 9, 5:35 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Mulmur (ON), 117, Eurico Rosa Da Silva
2. Rahy's Attorney (ON), 119, Slade Callaghan
3. Just Rushing (ON), 121, James McAleney
4. Kip Deville (OK), 124, Cornelio H. Velasquez
5. Wollemi Pine (KY), 117, Emma-Jayne Wilson
6. Ice Bear (ON), 117, Chantal Sutherland
7. Palladio (FL), 117, Richard Anthony Dos Ramos
8. Ventura (KY), 124, Garrett K. Gomez