By Gene Kershner
This weekend is one of the biggest, outside of the Canadian Triple Crown races, for our neighbors to the north at Woodbine Racetrack. Pattison Canadian International day is on Sunday afternoon and will feature three Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup (BC) “Win and You’re In” (W&YI) races, with automatic entries and paid travel costs to the BC Turf (International), the BC Turf Sprint (Nearctic) and the BC Filly and Mare Turf (E.P. Taylor).
The International has drawn 11 entries, eight of which have shipped in from across the pond. The Europeans have been solid in this race in the past and will be looking to continue that pattern on Sunday. Check back here at the Sports, Ink blog on Sunday for my advance on the International.
The Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes, a six furlong turf sprint has attracted 11 runners including two European fillies, Fire Lilly (7-2), an Irish-bred who is the second choice and Night Carnation (9-2) who will be running on lasix for the first time with Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez aboard. The morning line favorite for the Nearctic is Big Band Sound (3-1) who will be cutting back in distance from his sixth-place Woodbine Mile performance last month. The six furlong distance could be the answer for the 5-year-old Bernstein thoroughbred.
Interesting to note that top jockey Olivier Peslier rode As de Trebol (12-1) in his last three races and will be in Toronto to ride Reliable Man in the International, but is not scheduled to ride in this race. Instead Italian jockey Mirco Demuro has the mount. This horse could be live at the distance at a great price, so keep an eye on the tote before the race goes off. The Kentucky-bred Tapit grey will be included in my horizontal wagering scheme.
The Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes is also a huge turf race for fillies and mares, three years old and upward going a mile and a quarter. Dream Peace (7-2), third by a half length in the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Super Saturday, will run back on two weeks rest for red-hot trainer Chad Brown. Top flight New York-based rider Ramon Dominguez will be in the irons on the Dansili filly for a trainer who wins 27 percent of the time second off the layoff. She finished second to the highly regarded Winter Memories, two races back in the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga this summer.
Frankie Dettori, who will be up north this weekend to ride Joshua Tree in the International, gets the nod on top of longshot Havant (20-1), also running first time on lasix. She’ll be stepping up in class against this group, but trainer Freddie Head must see something in this one to make the trip across the Atlantic.
The morning line favorite in the Taylor is Siyouma (3-1), an Irish-bred 4-year-old filly by Medicean out of a Danehill mare, whose resume includes a Grade 1 win at Newmarket two weeks ago in a one mile effort. She looks like she can handle the distance based on past efforts amongst some tough company with names like Snow Fairy and Arc winner Solemia can be found in her running lines.
Another to watch is the 3-year-old Street Cry filly Princess Highway (5-1) who ships in from Ireland, will be running on lasix for the first time and will get a five pound weight break from the older fillies and mares in the field. She’s two for two at the distance and has a Group 3 win under her belt.
Barefoot Lady (6-1), won the Grade 2 Canadian at 7-1 odds on the Woodbine turf course going a furlong less in distance, overcoming a bobbled start and could be a play underneath in the exotics as a horse for the course. She regains regular Euro rider Tony Hamilton for trainer Richard Fahey.
My long shot hopeful in the Taylor is Kapitale (12-1), a German-bred running third off the layoff and fourth place finisher in the aforementioned Canadian for conditioner Andreas Wohler. His Tomlinson distance rating is the highest in the field and he could surprise. The Tomlinson distance rating, by the way, is based on a statistical analysis of the performance of other thoroughbreds with the same pedigree influences, may prove helpful in predicting a thoroughbreds ability to handle the distance of a specific race.
We’ll be up in Toronto on Sunday for the big races, so follow along on my Twitter feed and look for recaps in the Sports, Ink blog Sunday afternoon.