Take Saturday’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile to the bank. More accurately, take what you learned from the race to big upcoming turf stakes races, especially the Breeders’ Cup in early November.

What you learned from the Mile is that a very simple handicapping “rule” pointed to the top two finishers in the race: #5 Modern Games and #2 Ivar. What made those two horses stand out was the purse money they had been previously racing for. Modern Games had raced in France for $1.6 million and Ivar had raced last year in the Breeders’ Cup for $2 million. See the purse values in the program page here.

Those purse amounts were way ahead of any other horses in the race — and that’s a “rule” that yours truly has adopted for all turf stakes races. It was adopted after looking at years of Breeders’ Cup races, especially after missing longshot winners in the turf route races. What was the commonality for the missed horses? They had raced for the highest or second highest purses in a race.

Yes, it sounds so simple. But it is that simple. When the Breeders’ Cup races come to Keeneland and you’re facing turf stakes races, simply scan the horses to determine who have raced for the highest purses. One caveat: horses from Japan race at inordinately high purses so those should be discounted. What you’re mainly interested in are purses in Europe and North America. Having said that, of course, is that Japanese stakes horses have exploded onto the racing scene over the past year, winning two Breeders’ Cup races and multiple races overseas on World Cup days in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. We’ll see who shows up at Keeneland.

But you can still use the “highest purse” rule every day for all stakes turf races at all tracks. Note that you’ll have to refer to the Equibase program for purse values; the Daily Racing Form doesn’t include graded stakes purse values in its past performance lines.

Next Big Turf Stakes Day at Woodbine

The next big turf stakes day at Woodbine is two weeks away: the Breeders’ Stakes on Sunday, Oct. 2. It’s the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown and is expected to see the return of a horse I had picked for the Queen’s Plate, Hall of Dreams, who had finished second at 16-1. He’s likely to be one of the top choices in that race, as is the third-place finisher, Sir for Sure, who lost his rider competing in the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie.

Purse values won’t come into play for that race because purses will be pretty much equal — but what will be important is closing fractions on the turf. We’ll see whether Hall of Dreams remains the best closer. Twelve Canadian-bred 3-year-olds have been nominated for that race.