TORONTO — Irish-bred Mondialiste rallied to beat Lea by a half-length Sunday in the Grade 1 $1 million Woodbine Mile to earn a spot in the Breeders' Cup Mile next month at Keeneland.
Ridden by Feargal Lynch for trainer David O'Meara, the 5-year-old Mondialiste finished in 1:36.66 in his North American debut on the rain-soaked turf course.
"The game plan was always going to be to take our time and come with a late challenge and hope they'd come back with the soft ground," Lynch said. "That's exactly what happened. My only problem was finding the gaps, the horse had plenty left in the tank. It was just a matter of spotting the holes and going through them."
Coming off consecutive victories in England, Mondialiste is the first Irish-bred winner in the history of the race. He paid $9.60, $4.50 and $3.20 for his fourth victory in 15 career starts.
Lea returned $3.50 and $2.70, and front-running Obviously paid $2.90 to show.
"I've watched an awful lot of Woodbine Miles on YouTube and they always seem to be won near the back," O'Meara said. "He (Obviously) went very quick in front. He hung on there for a long, long time but we were very confident with our horse. We've always finished well and Feargal timed it to perfection."
O'Meara hasn't decided if Mondialiste will race at Keeneland.
"We'll just take the horse home and see how he is," O'Meara said.
Lynch said if Mondialiste runs in the Breeders' Cup Mile, he'll be a definite contender.
"This is a serious horse," Lynch said. "If he turns up in Keeneland, he'll take a lot of beating."
Earlier, Ontario-bred Interpol won the Grade 1 $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf, and Strut the Course took the Grade 2 $300,000 Canadian Stakes.