By Gene Kershner
On Sunday afternoon the 76th running of the $1 million Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International at the world famous turf course at Woodbine. The International will go to post at 5:42 ET, with the winner bringing home $600,000.
Defending champion Joshua Tree (6-1) will make his fourth consecutive appearance and will attempt to win his third International after capturing the 2010 and 2012 editions of the race. Oddly, he'll try and win this year's race for a third trainer, Ed Dunlop, as his 2010 win was direct by Aidan O'Brien and last year's winning trainer was Marco Botti. He is the field's leading money winner with over $3.1 million in career earnings, but in winless in six starts since last year's International victory.
His main competition will come from one of two Pattison horses trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield. Forte Dei Marmi (3-1), no stranger to this race, will enter the gate on a three-race win streak and as the morning line favorite. Attfield, who is a member of both the Canadian and U.S. Halls of Fame, has never won the International, and it would surely be a feather in his cap. He'll also send Perfect Timber (12-1) postward with Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez in from the New York circuit to ride.
"I'm quite happy with the post positions for both horses," Attfield told the Woodbine media office. "Yes, He's (Forte Dei Marmi) in great shape. Both horses are really, really doing well. It would appear that Forte Dei Marmi has been in good form for a little while now. I just hope we can keep him there for a bit longer," he said.
Chad Brown will ship Hyper (5-1) in after winning his last two on the NYRA circuit and top jockey Joel Rosario will make his first appearance at Woodbine since running in the Queen's Plate in July. Ken and Sarah Ramsey's 6-year-old son of Victory Gallop has thrived at longer distances and should relish the mile and a half distance on the spectacular Woodbine turf course.
One horse that peaked my interest is the 4-year-old French bred Lucayan (8-1) who comes off two strong finishes on the west coast at Santa Anita and Del Mar. He will be reunited with French jockey Stephane Pasquier on Sunday, who rode him in his first eight career races in France, before being shipped over to the States. In the Grade 2 John Henry Turf Classic at Santa Anita he finished third by two lengths behind Breeders' Cup Turf-bound Indy Point. I'm looking for this one to step up with his French rider aboard.
Bill Mott will ship in Slumber (4-1) who comes off a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Super Saturday at Belmont last month, with Hall of Famer Mike Smith in the irons. That race's first three finishers will all head to Santa Anita next week and run in the Breeders' Cup. Slumber finished only one and a quarter length behind Little Mike that day. Mott won the 1995 International with Lassigny, and will look to spark Juddmonte Farms to a record fourth victory in the International.
The hometown rooting favorite will be the filly, Irish Mission (20-1) who finished fourth only a length behind the two Attfield horses and Stormy Len (6-1) in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer on Woodbine Mile day at Woodbine. She could be the outside long shot due to her familiarity with the turf course. She also sports a couple of super workouts over the past month, so she looks fit for the race.
The Woodbine media office have set a Twitter hashtag for the event (#WOIntl), so be sure to follow all of the tweets from Woodbine on Sunday during International Day.
Be sure to see my Breeders' Cup preview in Saturday's print issues of The Buffalo News.
Post Time Outlook: 1 - Slumber (GB); 2 - Lucayan; 3 - Forte Dei Marmi (GB) Long shot: Irish Mission.
The field for the 76th Canadian International:
|5||Joshua Tree (IRE)||Dunlop||Moore||6-1|
|7||Now We Can (GB)||N. Clement||Thulliez||20-1|
|8||Forte Dei Marmi (GB)||Attfield||Da Silva||3-1|
|11||Slumber (GB)||Mott||ME Smith||4-1|