The field in Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile came from around the world -- from England, France, Venezuela, Ireland, the United States and New Zealand. The winner was a rapidly improving Italian-bred, by way of California, who now moves into the top ranks of the world's milers.
Becrux, a 4-year-old gelding sired by Glen Jordan, raced in the middle of the pack early in the race at Woodbine, near Toronto. But when jockey Patrick Valenzuela, subbing for an injured Corey Nakatani, asked him to run, Becrux surged to the lead with 1-16th to go and was able to hold off Rebel Rebel in the final jumps and win by a neck. Ad Valorem finished third.
Run over firm turf, the race took 1:33.99.
Becrux had a tough year in California, going winless in three starts before capturing the restricted Wickerer Handicap at Del Mar in late July. He then shipped to Canada, where he won the Play the King on Aug. 29.
"He's lived up to expectations in the last three races," said owner Gary Barber. "Before that, he was a bit of a disappointment."
Winning trainer Neil Drysdale said his plan "is to go to the Shadwell Mile. We'll see how he does there" before deciding on any further plan of action, including the $2 million Breeders' Cup Net Jets Mile. "We were very pleased with his race today."
In other races with potential implications for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4:
$3 million John Deere Turf
-- Kastoria let the favorite, Yeats, take the first run at the leaders in Saturday's Irish St. Leger at the Curragh, then put in her own bit in the final furlong, going by to win by 1/2 length. The Whistling Teal got home third. Kastoria, a 5-year-old daughter of Selkirk, ran the1 3/4 mile on turf rated "good" in 3:01.03. Kastoria, trained by John Oxx for the Aga Khan, may be headed to Woodbine for the Canadian International on Oct. 22 while Yeats is being considered for November's Melbourne Cup down under.
$2 million Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf
-- Ready's Gal led virtually all the way around in Sunday's $300,000 (Canadian) Canadian Stakes for fillies and mares. At the wire, the 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by More Than Ready was first, 1/2 length ahead of the favorite, Arravale. Elle Runaway finished third. Ready's Gal, with Ramon Dominguez up for trainer Todd Pletcher, completed the "about" 9 furlongs on firm turf in 1:46.56.
$5 million Classic, Powered by Dodge
-- Wanderin Boy wandered right to the lead in Saturday's $150,000 Brooklyn Breeders' Cup Handicap at Belmont Park and rambled right on to the winner's circle. Running easily on the lead, the 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Seeking the Gold finished 1 1/2 lengths to the good of Awesome Twist, with Reverberate third and Funny Cide fourth. Javier Castellano steered Wanderin Boy over 9 furlongs in 1:47.94. "I was really pleased with his race," said winning trainer John Kimmel, "being his first time going long. He really finished up nicely. I don't know where we're going to go. We'll probably keep him eligible for the Gold Cup and take it from there."
$2 million TVG Sprint
-- Win McCool had 'em all the way in Saturday's $100,000 Floral Park Handicap at Belmont Park. Moving quickly to the lead, the 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Giant's Causeway survived some early pace pressure, got clear and held on to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Great Intentions. Stormy Kiss finished third. Win McCool ran 6 furlongs around the sweeping Belmont turn in 1:09.40 under Garrett Gomez. "She always has an excuse," trainer Bobby Barbara said of Win McCool's spotty record. "She's always been a headache for everybody. But finally, she's come into hand. Today she was perfect and everything went right."
-- Level Playingfield trailed the field after the first quarter mile of Saturday's $75,000 Marfa Stake at Turfway Park in Kentucky. Then, the 5-year-old Level Sands gelding split rivals on the turn, accelerated to the lead and drew off, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over Smalltown Slew. Yucatan finished third. Level Playingfield ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:16.58 with John McKee aboard. "He's the type of horse that needs pace in front of him," said McKee. "The pace was pretty quick and it set up for us." Added trainer Bob Holthus, "You know he's going to run that way so you kind of prepare yourself." Level Playingfield has won three straight starts at Turfway, dating back to last fall's Kentucky Cup Sprint, and Holthus said he plans to take him to the Phoenix Breeders' Cup at Keeneland.
-- Celtic Innis stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial, got to the lead at mid-stretch and held off a late bid by City Weekend to win by a neck. Southern Missile finished third. Celtic Innis, a 4-year-old, Maryland-bred gelding by Yarrow Brae, ran 6 furlongs on a wet-fast track in 1:09.89 with Ramon Dominguez aboard. The favorite, Joey Carson, showed little, finishing fifth of seven. Celtic Innis has seven wins from 18 career starts.
-- A Sea Trippi surged to the front with a quarter-mile to run in Saturday's $100,000 U Can Do It Handicap for fillies and mares at Calder Race Course in Florida and went on to win easily, finishing 2 1/4 lengths ahead of the favorite, Running Bobcats. American Miss finished third. A Sea Trippi, a 3-year-old, Florida-bred filly by Trippi, got the 6 1/2 furlongs over a sloppy, sealed track in 1:18.09 under Eduardo Nunez. A Sea Trippi finished fourth in the Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes on "Summit of Speed" day at Calder and despite Saturday's win, trainer Ron Spatz doesn't have any lofty aspirations for his filly. "We'll see what comes up for her in the book," he said. "I'd just as soon have her back with other 3-year-olds. I wouldn't rule out going long again, either."
$2 million Bessemer Trust Juvenile
-- Roman Commander took back early in Sunday's $130,000 Barretts Juvenile Stakes at Fairplex in California, was blocked behind a wall of horses when he tried to make his move in the stretch, then finally got through in time to win by 1/2 length over the odds-on favorite, Chief's Magic. Lit'sgoodlookngray was third. Roman Commander, a Kentucky-bred colt by Deputy Commander, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.42. Matt Garcia rode for trainer Gary Stute.
-- Bariklo romped to a popular, 2 3/4-lengths victory over Bilbo in Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Swynford Stakes at Woodbine. Jumping quickly to the fore, the Kentucky-bred son of E Dubai survived early pressure, got clear at the top of the stretch and wasn't menaced thereafter. With Constant Montpellier aboard, the gelding ran 7 furlongs in 1:24.65 on the all-weather track. He has four consecutive wins. "He's improved every race," said Montpellier. "This guy gets better every time. He comes out of there running and took me right to the lead. He's just a racehorse." Trainer David Dwyer said he will give Bariklo a break. "You can only get so much lemon juice out of the lemon," he said. "It's time to give him a rest."
$2 million Juvenile Fillies
-- Dreaming of Anna, running against the boys, battled for the lead in Sunday's $250,000 (Canadian) Summer Stakes at Woodbine, got clear midway around the turn and drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Marcavelly. Oma finished third. Dreaming of Anna, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Rahy, finished the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:35.03. Rene Douglas was up for trainer Wayne Catalano and owner Frank Calabrese. "I told Mr. Calabrese, I think we have something very, very special here," said Catalano. "We have Breeders' Cup in the back of our minds." Catalano scratched Dreaming of Anna from last weekend's Arlington-Washington Breeders' Cup Lassie when the track came up sloppy. "It's a great feeling," said Calabrese. "I bred her and her brother, Michael Lewis. She's named after my sister."
-- Quick Little Miss lived up to her name in Saturday's $130,000 Barretts Debutante Stakes at Fairplex in California -- at least at the end of the race. Trailing the field early, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Freud circled her nine rivals on the turn, battled to the lead through the stretch and drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Katispsublue. Kissin Party ran third. Quick Little Miss, with Isaias Enriquez in the irons, ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18.45. She is trained by Melvin Stute.
In other weekend racing:
Retribution opened a huge lead down the backstretch in Sunday's $100,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap for New York-breds, then held on well to win by 4 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Certifiably Crazy. Foreverness was third. Retribution, with Chantal Sutherland applying the carefully timed ride, finished the 9 furlongs on the "yielding" inner turf in 1:49.38.
Zippy Shannon led the field around the turn in Sunday's $100,000 Schenectady Handicap for New York-bred distaffers and held on to win by 3/4 length over Her Royal Nibs. The 6 furlongs, under Pablo Morales, finished in 1:09.78.
London Snow rallied from a ground-saving early trip to win Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Prevoyante Stakes for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies by 1 1/4 lengths. The favorite, Executive Flight, finished second and Wishart was third. London Snow, a daughter of Trajectory, ran 1 mile on "good" turf in 1:35.93 with Steven Bahen aboard.
Jersey Peach stalked the pace set by Fagedaboudit through most of Saturday's $125,000 Jersey Breeders' Handicap for state-breds, was sent to the lead at the quarter pole and easily drew off to win by 6 1/2 lengths. Fagedaboudit held on for third, a neck in front of the favorite, Meadow Blue, and another nose to the good of Carrots Only. With Christopher DeCarlo aboard, Jersey Peach ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:43.70. The 4-year-old, chestnut gelding is by Forest Wildcat.
I'mtoogoodtobetrue contested the pace from the start of Saturday's $100,000 Jersey Girl Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares, opened a clear margin in the stretch run and then held on at the end to win by 3/4 length over Final Assault. Jenny Bean Girl finished third. I'mtoogoodtobetrue, a 4-year-old Good and Tough filly, finished the 1 1/16 mile on a muddy track in 1:45.09.
Who's the Cowboy survived a bumpy start to win Saturday's $100,000 Friendly Lover Handicap for Jersey-breds by 4 1/4 lengths over Hey Chub. Brucker's Brother was third. Who's the Cowboy, a 4-year-old Intensity gelding, came three-wide on the turn to make up ground on the leaders, then four-wide into the stretch to take charge. He finished the 6 furlongs on a "good" track in 1:08.42.
Wild Gams was floated toward the middle of the track on the turn in Saturday's $100,000 Eleven North Handicap for state-bred fillies and mares but still got up in time to catch pace-setting Pure Disco and win by a neck. Beautiful East finished third, just another head back. Wild Gams, a 3-year-old daughter of Forest Wildcat, finished the 6 furlongs on a "good" track in 1:09.61.
Sunday, Halos Sailing Sain took over the lead on the turn for home in the $70,000 formal Gold Stakes, then held on to win by a nose over Itsawonderfulife. Colita finished third. Halos Sailing Sain, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred gelding by Halo's Image, ran 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:42.84 under Joe Bravo.
Friel's For Real got to the leaders with 1-16th left in Saturday's $100,000 Gala Lil Stakes for fillies and mares, then won a tough fight to the wire, scoring by a head over Silmaril. Sticky finished third. Friel's For Real, a 6-year-old, Florida-bred mare by Sword Dance, ran the 1 mile on a wet-fast track in 1:37.47 with Horacio Karamonos aboard.
Golden Gate Fields
Secret Scheme had a pretty open plan in Saturday's $50,000 Noe Valley Stakes for 3-year-old fillies: Get the lead and keep it. That's how it played out and the Florida-bred daughter of Percocity won by 3 lengths over odds-on favorite Victorina. Logan Avenue finished third. Secret Scheme ran the 1 1/16 mile on a fast track in 1:41.82 with Chad Schvaneveldt up.
Our Love set the pace in Saturday's $50,000 Majorette Handicap, repulsed a mild challenge at mid-stretch and went on to win by 1 1/4 length over Comalagold. Follow the Lite was third. Our Love, a 6-year-old, Louisiana-bred mare by Combat Ready, finished the "about" 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.69 seconds with Gerard Melancon up.