The pickings south of the Canadian border this Saturday are slim indeed.
The Belmont Oaks Invitational somehow drew just five entrants. The Downs at Albuquerque Handicap is the only other American six-figure stakes Saturday and try as I might to side against heavily favored Restrainedvengence, I failed.
So, it's off to Woodbine. I don't love any single horse but at least find enough raw material for three possible plays.
Not a vintage renewal, for sure.
As of midday Thursday, it was uncertain whether Admiralty Pier runs here or in the Singspiel.
War of Will is 2-1 on the morning line and could sink lower than that. This colt is a rare Grade 1 winner on both dirt, where he captured the 2019 Preakness, and turf, where he won the Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland last out. The Keeneland win meant more, but War of Will ran at least as well in the Shoemaker Mile, where he was the only pace player anywhere close to the top finishers. He also turned in a laudable performance in 2018 when second to talented Fog of War over the Woodbine turf.
Here's the thing: War of Will originally got switched to dirt because he is more of a one-paced strong galloping type. He has speed and can sustain it but lacks gears the best turf horses possess. War of Will won the Maker's Mark last out exactly the way he'll succeed at this level - using speed to get a jump on the closers, hanging on through the final half-furlong. It can be effective, but one would much rather hope that needle gets threaded at 6-1, his price the last two, than his Saturday odds.
War of Will's Mark Casse-trained stablemate March to the Arch comes off a very nice course and distance win in the King Edward - very nice, and at the very top end of his performance range. Best-case scenario is March to the Arch repeats that effort at a shorter price while stepping up in class - not a value-generating proposition.