09/07/2008 11:00PM

Good-luck barn runs Ventura in Mile


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer Bobby Frankel has had his share of luck in the $1 million Woodbine Mile, which will be run for the 12th time on Sunday.

Frankel's 10-1 shot Riviera held up the start of the 2000 Mile for several minutes, reluctant to load into the starting gate. When the gate finally sprung open, European invader Arkadian Hero dwelt from post 2 and spotted the field at least 10 lengths. Riviera had a trouble-free journey en route to a narrow victory over a charging Arkadian Hero, who was much the best.

Frankel saddled the heavy favorite in the 2005 Mile, Leroidesanimaux, who was untested over soft ground. The course was labeled yielding that day, and Leroidesanimaux relished the soft going and won in a romp, while earning a whopping 115 Beyer Speed Figure.

On Sunday, Frankel will send out the second choice, Ventura, who will try to become the first filly or mare to win the Grade 1 Mile.

Ventura began her career in England, where she defeated males in a listed stakes on Polytrack last fall. She has blossomed since coming to North America, winning 3 of 5 starts, including the Grade 1 Just a Game at Belmont.

Ventura will not be Frankel's first female runner in the Mile. In 2000, he sent out Honest Lady, a gifted dirt specialist, who finished seventh. Ventura is a superb turf miler with several triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures on her resume, and she shouldn't be out of her league in the Mile.

Kip Deville, the runner-up to favored Shakespeare in last year's Mile, will be the prohibitive favorite under Cornelio Velasquez.

Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., Kip Deville captured the 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile over soft ground at Monmouth Park. He won both of his starts this year, in the Grade 1 Maker's Mark at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Poker Handicap Belmont.

Local runners Just Rushing and Wollemi Pine could battle for third money.

Just Rushing has improved with each start this year for trainer Sid Attard, who won the 2001 Mile with 6-1 shot Numerous Times. Just Rushing captured the local prep for the Mile, the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes, with a 102 Beyer.

Wollemi Pine rallied for second in the seven-furlong Play the King after capturing the allowance prep for that seven-furlong sprint, beating Just Rushing and upstart Starticus. At this stage of his career, the late-blooming Wollemi Pine might be perfectly suited to a one-turn mile.

The Play the King has yielded two Mile winners, Soaring Free in 2004 and Becrux in 2006.

The versatile Ice Bear is a longshot possibility off his gutsy victory over Marchfield in the 1 1/8-mile With Approval Stakes, which was taken off the grass and run on the Polytrack. Ice Bear gave the talented European invader Royal Oath a run for his money when second in the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes over yielding ground in June.

Sunday's excellent supporting feature, the $750,000 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf, could be within the grasp of the improving local runner Seaside Retreat.

Seaside Retreat lowered the 1 1/4-mile course record when winning his last start in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes. His time (2:00.60) was even more impressive when you consider that he broke awkwardly and that there was a short 20-foot run from the gate to the pole where the timer kicks in.

Seaside Retreat can be effective racing near a slow pace, like he did in the Nijinsky, or from well off a lively pace. Trainer Mark Casse said he has no qualms about running him at the Northern Dancer distance of 1o1/2 miles.

"When he trains, he's like the Energizer bunny," Casse said. "Patrick Husbands knows him as good as anybody. He rode him at 2, 3 and 5. He says he's a different horse now - that he doesn't have as quick a turn of foot as he used to - he just goes and goes and goes. He's been after me to run him a mile and a half forever."