09/08/2014 12:36PM

Grand Arch among 12 probable for Woodbine Mile

Michael Burns
Grand Arch wins the Grade 2 King Edward Stakes at Woodbine in June.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – With two-time Woodbine Mile winner Wise Dan unlikely to return for a third straight year, a large field of 12 is probable for Sunday’s Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

A trio of horses will exit Saratoga’s Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap to run in the Woodbine Mile, including runner-up Grand Arch and fourth-place finisher Dorsett for trainer Brian Lynch. Grand Arch won his first graded stakes on the Woodbine turf course in the Grade 2 King Edward on June 22 and has been in the money in all 15 of his career starts.

“That horse has really come into himself this year,” Lynch said.

Jack Milton, the third-place finisher in the Fourstardave, also will run in the Woodbine Mile for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Mark Casse has two starters in Grade 2 Play the King Stakes winner Kaigun and runner-up Lockout. Other local horses who are probable for the Mile include Ancil, Best Bard, His Race to Win, and River Seven.

:: Woodbine Mile: Watch Thursday’s draw live

Trade Storm, who was third behind Wise Dan in last year’s Woodbine Mile, is the lone European horse to make the trip for this year’s race. American invaders Summer Front and Bobby’s Kitten round out the probable field.

Pierce well armed for stakes

Malcolm Pierce, who leads all trainers with four graded stakes victories at Woodbine this year, will have ample opportunity to add to that total with starters in four of the six graded stakes scheduled for this weekend.

Along with His Race to Win in the Woodbine Mile, Pierce will enter Don’t Leave Me in Saturday’s Grade 2 Natalma Stakes, Deceptive Vision and Dance Again in Sunday’s Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, and Aldous Snow in Sunday’s Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes.

Aldous Snow has been one of the top turf males on the grounds this season, capturing the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes on July 6. Pierce said Aldous Snow would need ideal conditions to make the starting gate this weekend.

“I have to hope for a dry week because this horse really doesn’t like soft turf,” he said. “He might get scratched if we had a lot of rain coming into the weekend because he loves the turf firm.”

Nijinsky Stakes winner Up With the Birds also was nominated to the Northern Dancer, but Pierce said he did not have a next start picked out for the 2013 Canadian Horse of the Year. Up With the Birds was fourth in the Grade 1 Arlington Million on Aug. 16.

Deceptive Vision hasn’t raced since she finished second in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes on July 6 to her stablemate, Overheard.

“We’ve just been spending time trying to get her to settle a bit,” Pierce said. “If you look at her charts, she’s been on the lead in her last two starts, which is really not the style we’re looking for.”

Reserved set for Natalma

Reserved, an impressive maiden winner on grass Aug. 16, will start in the Natalma Stakes for trainer Ashlee Brnjas and owner Colebrook Farm. Reserved set a slow pace and drew off for a four-length victory Aug. 16, and prior to that, she was beaten a head in her career debut by Don’t Leave Me.

Reserved is “a pretty special filly,” Brnjas said. “She was really green out there. She was leaping stuff and jumped shadows after the wire. She just runs. She’s a pleasure to have in the barn.”

Brnjas’s father, John, purchased the filly’s dam, Sarahs Rahy Dancer, in foal to Kitten’s Joy for $17,000 at the 2011 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society winter mixed sale. That foal turned out to be Reserved, and Brnjas said it didn’t take her long to realize that Reserved could be a special filly.

“I got to take that filly to Florida, and after the first couple of works, I called my dad and told him, ‘I think this filly is kind of legit,’ ” she said. “She’s probably the nicest 2-year-old I’ve ever had.”

Reserved took to the dirt training track last Friday for her final work ahead of the Natalma, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.40 in company with Acting Up and Kavika.

“I worked her against older horses who were the pacesetters that were maybe a little slow for the front fractions, so her work on paper wasn’t as impressive,” Brnjas said. Jockey Justin Stein “was super happy with her, and she closed and beat those horses. Everybody was happy, and she’s good to go.”