Woodbine: Spot plays for Northern Dancer, Nearctic

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

October 17th, 2020

A trio of graded turf stakes are slated to take place Sunday at Woodbine, with all three serving as steppingstones toward the Nov. 6-7 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

We’ve already shared picks and plays for the E. P. Taylor (G1). Let’s follow suit with selections for the $300,000 Northern Dancer (G1) and $250,000 Nearctic (G2), the other featured events on the exciting card.

Race 5: Northern Dancer (G1, 3:29 p.m. ET)

The top five finishers from Woodbine’s 1 1/4-mile Singspiel (G3) on Sept. 19 — #8 Count Again, #3 Sir Sahib, #1 Say the Word, #5 Nakamura, and #5 Woodbridge — are back for a rematch over 1 1/2 miles in the Northern Dancer.

They’ll be joined by the graded stakes-placed #4 Jungle Fighter, who finished ninth in the Singspiel, after he tracked the early pace.

But the Singspiel wasn’t the toughest race on paper, with the top five separated by just two lengths at the finish line. The victorious Count Again is an improving sort, but the 89 Brisnet Speed rating he posted wasn’t especially fast.

I’ll oppose all the Singspiel runners with #7 Admiralty Pier. While he has never run 1 1/2 miles, his sire (English Channel) and damsire (Kitten’s Joy) were both Breeders’ Cup-caliber Grade 1 winners at long distances on turf, which suggests the added length will suit Admiralty Pier.

Admiralty Pier has been knocking heads against tough company all year long. He won the Tampa Bay (G3) during the winter and enters the Northern Dancer off a respectable sixth-place effort in the Woodbine Mile (G1).

A pure frontrunner, Admiralty Pier will have every opportunity to shake loose on an easy lead in the Northern Dancer, which will set the stage for an upset victory.

$20 to win on #7 Admiralty Pier
$4 exacta: 7 with 3,5,8 ($12)
Total: $32

Race 9: Nearctic (G2, 5:45 p.m. ET)

The consistent #5 Silent Poet hasn’t lost a turf sprint since July of 2018 and is undefeated in such events this season. A frontrunning allowance winner at 6 1/2 furlongs Sept. 27, Silent Name will be tough to catch on the cutback to 6 furlongs for the Nearctic.

But #9 Olympic Runner could put up a fight. An improving son of elite turf champion Gio Ponti, Olympic Runner enters off a gallant, fourth-place effort in the Woodbine Mile, where he was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths at a distance that isn't his best.

Olympic Runner previously finished second, behind six-time Sovereign Award winner Pink Lloyd in both the Bold Venture (G3) and Vigil (G3), a pair of competitive Tapeta sprints.

Olympic Runner is progressing in the right direction for trainer Mark Casse, so let’s key him with Silent Poet and “ALL” in a pair of trifectas.

$1 trifecta: 5,9 with 5,9 with ALL ($14)
$1 trifecta: 5,9 with ALL with 5,9 ($14)
Total: $28

Good luck!