09/17/2007 12:00AM

Shakespeare flourishes in new role

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Shakespeare took a giant step toward the Breeders' Cup Mile with his jaw-dropping victory in Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile.

With Garrett Gomez in the irons, and making just his second start since the 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf, Shakespeare came flying up the inside to score by a going-away length.

"It was awesome," said winning trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, reflecting on Shakespeare's performance from Belmont Park on Monday morning. "He's a very, very talented horse.

"He's a Grade 1 winner at a mile and a half, and now at a mile. And I don't know that it would matter to him if it was seven furlongs or a mile and seven furlongs, he's just that talented."

McLaughlin obviously will have no need to experiment with those unfamiliar distances, however, as Shakespeare, winner of last year's 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont, has found his new calling as a turf miler.

After suffering his first defeat when making his sixth career start in the 2005 BC Turf for trainer Bill Mott, Shakespeare was plagued by a tendon problem and resurfaced in McLaughlin's barn this spring.

As McLaughlin prepared Shakespeare for his comeback, he did not envision the horse being reborn as a turf miler. But he entered him at that distance in an optional claiming race at Saratoga on Aug. 2.

"As a horse coming off a 21-month rest, and an old tendon, we just were training him and saw the race at Saratoga, at a mile," said McLaughlin. "It looked like a perfect spot to start him off, even though he probably wants further."

But after Shakespeare rallied there to score by a half-length over the proven stakes miler Art Master, running his final quarter-mile in about 22 seconds, McLaughlin revised that opinion.

"It was an awesome performance," said McLaughlin. "He just had so many gears. Why would we want to change anything, and want to go further? If he could race in 22 the last quarter, he's going to win a lot of races."

At that point, McLaughlin circled the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup Mile at Monmouth Park on Shakespeare's calendar and began searching for an interim spot.

"Going backward from the Breeders' Cup, I was looking at races with five to six weeks in between," said McLaughlin. "This race was perfect timing."

Shakespeare had perfect timing, too. His final quarter? A shade over 22 seconds. He earned $600,000 and a Beyer Speed Figure of 107 for his efforts.

As for the remaining Woodbine Mile shippers:

* Kip Deville also earned himself a crack at the Breeders' Cup Mile with his solid second-place finish under rider Cornelio Velasquez.

"Without a doubt, as long as he eats good and trains good, that's where he'll go," said Kip Deville's trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr. "I was very happy with the way he ran."

On Monday morning, Kip Deville was headed to Saratoga.

"I'll let him hang out there for a few days and then bring him into Aqueduct," said Dutrow.

* Galantas, a gallant third under jockey Todd Kabel, also could be bound for the Breeders' Cup Mile.

"I thought he ran huge," said Graham Motion, the horse's trainer.

Galantas was coming into the Woodbine Mile off a close second-place finish in the Sea O'Erin at one mile on turf at Arlington.

"He really had to step it up a notch here, and he did," said Motion. "Considering the quality of North American horses, this was a remarkable group."

* Remarkable News set the pace under Ramon Dominguez before weakening slightly to finish fourth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths in his first start since June 30.

"He went a little bit quicker than I would have liked," said assistant trainer Ruth Penna, wife of trainer Angel Penna Jr. "He never really relaxed."

Remarkable News is not eligible for the Breeders' Cup and would have to be supplemented.

* Host rallied on the inside to finish fifth, 3 1/2 lengths back.

"He ran extremely well, considering he was on the rail and he doesn't want to be inside," said Ginny Depasquale, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher.

Host could use the Woodbine Mile as a steppingstone to the Breeders' Cup Mile. The 7-year-old was supplemented to the 2005 BC Mile at Belmont and finished seventh, beaten three lengths.

* Becrux, the defending champion in the Mile, failed to fire and finished sixth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths.

"I thought it was a well-run race," said trainer Neil Drysdale. "My horse, I thought, was a little flat. He made a little move, then flattened out."

Becrux will be heading back to California.

"It looks like he needs a couple of months off," said Drysdale.

* Art Master was the most disappointing of the eight shippers from south of the border, as he finished ninth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths under jockey Julien Leparoux.

"He just didn't run," said trainer Bobby Frankel. "The jock said he had no horse at any time."

Art Master will return to Belmont, where Frankel will decide upon his next move.

* Dead Red, who had vanned up from Calder for the Woodbine Mile, finished 12th at 72-1.

"I'm not disappointed," said trainer George Mikhalides. "He ran a nice race."

Dead Red was scheduled to head back to Calder on Tuesday but could return for the Grade 2, $500,000 Nearctic, a six-furlong turf race here Oct. 21.

Locals manage no better than seventh

Awesome Action had the best placing of the local contingent, beaten 4 1/4 lengths in seventh at 76-1.

Sky Conqueror, the most highly regarded of the locals at 10-1, finished a head behind Awesome Action in eighth place.

"I was disappointed," said trainer Darwin Banach. "I thought there would be more pace. They didn't slow down at all."

Sky Conqueror now will point for the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race here Oct. 21.

Arravale, Canada's Horse of the Year and female turf champion in 2006, finished 10th while facing males for the first time.

"She only got beat 4 1/2 lengths for everything, but that's just not her spot," said trainer Mac Benson.

Arravale will be nominated to the Grade 1, $1omillion E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares that she won last year, but also will be considered for the Grade 2, $400,000 First Lady, a one-mile turf race at Keeneland on Oct. 6.

Le Cinquieme Essai weakened to finish 11th, beaten six lengths after pressing the pace of Remarkable News.

"He was a little strong early," said trainer Paul Nielsen. "It was just a tough race for him. I was hoping that he'd run a little better, but he didn't."

Business down for day

Woodbine Mile Day was a slight disappointment on the business front as a total of $4,072,155 was wagered on the 11-race program, down 11 percent from last year's $4,573,965.

Handle on the Woodbine Mile itself was $1,263,680, up 7.8 percent from $1,172,625 last year.