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Algiers (IRE) looking to use Durham Cup as springboard to Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

October 4, 2023

TORONTO, October 4, 2023 – The Durham Cup (G3) is not on any traditional list of preps for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

But that will be the aim of one horse at Woodbine on Saturday as Algiers (IRE), trained in England by the father-and-son team of Simon and Ed Crisford, takes on eight rivals in the $150,000 race over 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta.

Algiers, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Rabbah Bloodstock LLC, displayed the best form of his career when competing on dirt at Meydan Racecourse this winter and spring. After impressively winning the first two Challenge rounds on the path to the Dubai World Cup, the Godolphin-bred was the second choice behind the recently defending champion Country Grammer in the main event.

Country Grammar failed to fire, finishing seventh, but a monstrous performance by Japanese invader Ushba Tesoro left Algiers the runner-up, beaten 2 ¾ lengths with the 2022 Saudi Cup winner Emblem Road a nose back in third in the $12 million race over about 1 ¼ miles on March 25.

Ushba Tesoro is eyeing a date in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 4 and if all goes according to plan then Algiers would appear on the same program in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Team Crisford had entered Algiers in last weekend’s Woodward Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct but circumstances led them to scrap that plan.

Ed Crisford said the combination of the uncertainty over Aqueduct’s main track following 8.65 inches of rain and the inability to train several mornings leading up to the race were the reasons for the scratch. The plan had been to run in the Woodward to find out how Algiers handled a North American dirt track prior to a potential start in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

“We didn’t think the track was going to be suitable for our particular horse,” Crisford said. “I thought he would have run a big race. He can run at Woodbine and get a race under his belt, and we can take it from there.”

Supplemented to the Durham Cup for $2,250, Algiers will be racing over a synthetic surface for the second time in his career, the first having come last November in the listed Churchill Stakes over 1 ¼ miles at Lingfield Park in England.

Algiers was beaten a nose there as the runner-up behind Missed the Cut, who has since been sold and relocated to California and won Santa Anita’s Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup over 1 ½ miles of dirt at Santa Anita last weekend.

While Algiers gets top billing, the Durham Cup field is a deep and interesting mixture with perhaps no horse more dangerous than Treason, who is owned by LNJ Foxwoods and MSK Racing Ventures and is trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Josie Carroll.

The lightly-raced 5-year-old gelding had fared well over the local Tapeta surface with a victory in the Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile Eclipse and a second-place finish behind stablemate Tyson in the Grade 3, 1 1/8 mile Dominion Day.

In his latest outing Treason, ended a close second in the Grade 2 King Edward over one mile of the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

Treason and jockey Kazishi Kimura winning the Eclipse Stakes on June 4, 2023 at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)
Treason and jockey Kazishi Kimura winning the Eclipse Stakes on June 4, 2023 at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)

“The turf is something we did to open up some other avenues for him, and he ran very well,” said Carroll. “We absolutely thought about running him in the Woodbine Mile, and weighed our options, and just decided that this would probably be a better spot for him.”

War Bomber (IRE), the King Edward winner, returned to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. The 5-year-old also has some solid form on the Tapeta, including a victory in last summer’s Seagram Cup over the Durham Cup distance with Artie’s Storm less than a length back in second.

Artie’s Storm, winner of last spring’s Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the Tapeta, is coming off a sharp score under allowance terms over the same surface and distance. The 5-year-old Ontario-bred ended second in last year’s Durham Cup with War Bomber three lengths back in third.

Wolfie’s Dynaghost finished fifth behind Treason as the odds-on choice in the Eclipse and returns from Kentucky for trainer Jonathan Thomas. The 5-year-old gelding had been perfect in three previous outings on synthetic surfaces at Gulfstream Park and Turfway Park.

Field for the Grade 3 $150,000 Durham Cup


1 – Algiers (IRE) – Robert Havlin – Simon Crisford

2 – Wolfie’s Dynaghost – Rafael Hernandez – Jonathan Thomas

3 – Artie’s Storm – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Paul Buttigieg

4 – Treason – Kazushi Kimura – Josie Carroll

5 – Novo Sol (BRZ) – Patrick Husbands – Saffie Joseph, Jr.

6 – War Bomber (IRE) – Sahin Civaci – Norm McKnight

7 – War Court – Christopher Husbands – Layne Giliforte

8 – U S Army Corps – Leo Salles – Jason Marrocco

9 – Avoman – Eswan Flores – John Charalambous

Bill Tallon, for Woodbine Communications

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