The fields for the 14 races that comprise the Breeders’ Cup World Championships really begin to come into focus in summer and fall and this regular feature will offer a snapshot profile of one of the previous weekend’s standout stars.
Modern Games punched his ticket to the $2 million FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile with a win in the $1,017,200 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes Sept. 17 at Woodbine. The Woodbine Mile has been a very important prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile with five winners prepping in the Woodbine race in the 15 years from 2007 to 2021: Kip Deville, 2007; Court Vision, 2011; Wise Dan, 2012 and 2013; and World Approval, 2017.
Modern Games was part of trainer Charlie Appleby’s international raid on the 2021 Breeders’ Cup in which he won three World Championships races at Del Mar: the Juvenile Turf with Modern Games on Nov. 5 and the Longines Turf with Yibir and the FanDuel Mile with Space Blues on Nov. 6.
In fact, Appleby has carried a scorching run of success in North America right into 2022 as he’s amassed 14 victories, including a remarkable 11 Grade 1s, from 28 starters here since the start of 2021. Quite simply, Appleby runners have dominated when shipped across the Atlantic.
Modern Games entered the Woodbine Mile with a French Classic win in 2022 to his credit, having won the Emirates Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French Two Thousand Guineas) May 15 at Longchamp, and entered off a strong runner-up finish to unbeaten European superstar Baaeed in the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes in July. Pair that with Appleby’s recent track record, and it makes sense that Modern Games was sent off as an overwhelming 3-4 favorite in an accomplished field of 11 Sept. 17 at Woodbine.
He exceeded expectations by becoming the first 3-year-old to win the Woodbine Mile while overwhelming the opposition in a 5 ¼-length romp that earned an eye-catching 121 Equibase Speed Figure and a gaudy 112 Beyer Speed Figure.
The victory earned him an expenses-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile Nov. 5 at Keeneland, and he should be the favorite if reaches the starting gate for the race for several reasons:
- Appleby appears to be in a league of his own right now. He is pushing all of the correct buttons in knowing which horses to ship to North America and when ... and the results speak for themselves.
- Ivar finished a distant second to Modern Games in the Woodbine Mile. The same Ivar was third by 1 ½ lengths to Space Blues in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile, so we have a pretty good measuring stick for the level of class needed to win that race and Modern Games has cleared that. Additionally, three of the last eight Breeders’ Cup Mile winners were 3-year-olds.
- Modern Games clearly appreciates the firmer ground in North America, as he’s 2-for-2 here with a pair of clear victories in marquee Grade 1 races, and handles the international travel with aplomb.
- Like Appleby, jockey William Buick has been terrific in North America since 2021, winning seven of nine starts with six Grade 1 wins, all for Appleby. They are a potent tandem.
Modern Games did everything right in the Woodbine Mile on Sept. 17 and, provided he stays healthy and on target for the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile, the Dubawi colt figures to be very tough to beat Nov. 5 at Keeneland.