TORONTO, October 11 – Idaho, who hails from the powerful stable of trainer Aidan O’Brien, finished fifth in last year’s Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International won by returning champion Erupt.
On Sunday, Idaho, as the 5-2 morning line favourite, will be looking not only to redeem himself but also possibly to provide an historic moment for O’Brien, who has notched 23 Group 1 stakes wins this season and is honing in on the record of 25 set by the late Bobby Frankel in 2003.
A field of 10 will go postward in the Canadian International, a 1 1/2 mile turf race for three-year-olds and upward which will be worth $800,000. The race is scheduled to off at 6:10 p.m. as the 10th of 12 races on the program.
Idaho, who drew Post 4, is a dual Group 2 winner, with the more recent win a game score in Ascot’s Hardwicke Stakes at 1 1 /2 miles. His best result in four other starts this season, all at the mile and a half distance, was a third behind subsequent Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 1-3 finishers Enable and Ulysses in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
Since then, the four-year-old Irish-bred colt has finished sixth as the favourite in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Sword Dancer and eighth after setting most of the pace and giving way late in the Arc. O’Brien, who trains Idaho for Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier, will be seeking his third Canadian International win while jockey Ryan Moore already has three to his credit.
Erupt (Post 9) was one of four European invaders but came in under the radar when he upset last year’s Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International at 12-1 for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard. For Sunday’s renewal, Erupt is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line as he looks to follow Shepperton (1942-43), George Royal (1965-66), and Joshua Tree (2012-2013, for different trainers) as back-to-back Canadian International winners.
A homebred who races for the Niarchos family’s Flaxman Holdings, Erupt had captured the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris over 1 1/2 miles of turf when he went four-for-four in his first campaign at age three. The Irish-bred five-year-old horse then went winless in his next seven outings in 2015 and 2016 before registering his second Grade 1 victory here.
This year, Erupt was a good fourth when opening up in the Group 1 Prix Ganay before having an off day at Saint-Cloud. Most recently, Erupt finished fifth when invading for the Sword Dancer at Saratoga. Following that race, he remained in the United States with trainer Graham Motion. Junior Alvarado, who won the Grade 2 Canadian aboard the Motion-trained Quidura in his first ride here last month, has picked up the mount on Erupt.
European shippers have won the last six runnings of the Canadian International and Chemical Charge (Post 10, 5-1) is the other European tasked with extending that streak and checked in with that purpose very early Tuesday morning. Based in England with trainer Ralph Beckett, Chemical Charge showed much promise when two-for-two as a juvenile but a knee injury incurred in his second start kept him on the shelf for the following season.
After finishing second in each of his five starts at four, the first three for Joe Lyons in Ireland and the others while back with Beckett, Chemical Charge has recorded three victories this year and finished a good third in the Hardwicke. Oisin Murphy, the talented 22-year-old who is first rider for Qatar Racing Ltd., has guided the Irish-bred to three wins including a last-out score over 1 1/2 miles of Polytrack at Kempton.
“He’s fine; he’s got his mojo back,” said traveling head lass Lindsey Metcalfe, who checked on a flight from Amstersdam very early Tuesday morning with Chemical Charge.
Looking to hold the fort for the home team will be Johnny Bear (Post 5, 12-1), who fetched the top price of $275,000 here at the 2012 CTHS yearling sale but could have been claimed for $40,000 late last October. The English Channel gelding has taken a new lease on life at age six for owners John Burness (Colebrook Farms) and Danny Dion (Bear Stables Ltd.). Ashlee Brnjas, daughter of the co-owner, had the Ontario-bred at Tampa Bay Downs this winter, where he won two of three starts.
Back at Woodbine, Johnny Bear notched his third score of the season when competing under second-level allowance terms at 1 1/8 miles on turf June 24. But stretching out to 1 1/2 miles on the turf seems to have brought out a new best in Johnny Bear as he captured the 1 1/2 mile Halton, for graduates of the local yearling sale, and then toppled the highly-fancied English invader Hawkbill in the Northern Dancer.
“We sent him for the farm for 10 days after that race, to gain some weight, and be sure his blood was right,” said Ashlee Brnjas. "We had two vets go over him, head to toe. He’s been bouncing around the barn since he got back.”
Brnjas is happy enough with Johnny Bear’s draw in the middle of the field. “I don’t think post position matters that much at a mile and a half,” she said. “It’s more the jockey.”
Luis Contreras, aboard for his last three victories, again will do the honours as Johnny Bear looks to become the first locally-based and trained winner since Thornfield in 1999.
Flamboyant (Post 2, 6-1), based in California with trainer Patrick Gallagher, has been knocking on the door there recently and is coming in off a close third-place finish in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles of turf on August 19. Joel Rosario will take over aboard the French-bred six-year-old, who arrived at Woodbine last Friday. The last California-based horse to win the Canadian International was Marsh Side, for Neil Drysdale, in 2008.
Trainer Graham Motion has a second Canadian International entrant in Messi (Post 8, 8-1), who will be returning from his Fair Hill, Maryland base after finishing an unlucky third in the Northern Dancer. The German-bred seven-year-old gelding also showed a liking for Woodbine turf in a previous trip, as he captured the Grade 2 Sky Classic over 1 1/4 miles last summer. Jose Ortiz Jr., aboard for Messi’s last two starts, retains the mount.
Trainer Mike Maker has a pair for the Canadian International in Oscar Nominated (Post 1, 8-1) and Enterprising (Post 3, 20-1), the respective first and ninth-place finishers last time out in the Group 3 Kentucky Turf Cup over 1 1/2 miles of turf at Kentucky Downs. Both were coming into that race off contrasting performances in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, a 1 1/4 mile turf race in which Enterprising ended a closing fourth and Oscar Nominated an even eighth.
Oscar Nominated, haltered for $75,000 as a two-year-old, has gone on to become another magical Maker claim, joining the likes of Da Big Hoss and Bigger Picture, with four stakes wins and earnings of more than $1 million. The Kentucky Cup was the first graded stakes win for the four-year-old ridgling and Julien Leparoux, his rider there, will be looking to duplicate that success at Woodbine for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Enterprising, purchased privately last summer by Maxis Stable owner Sidney Karmia, has gone on to win three stakes including the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap and Grade 2 Muniz Memorial in New Orleans this winter. Rafael Hernandez will ride the Florida-bred six-year-old gelding for the first time.
Postulation (Post 6, 12-1), acquired privately last year by trainer Eddie Graham for Gregory and Caroline Bentley’s Runnymede Racing, is another who has found his niche running long on the turf recently. After recording his first win for his new connections in July’s 1 1/2 mile Cape Henoplen at Delaware Park, Postulation has gone on to win Arlington’s Grade 3 American St. Leger at 1 11/16 miles and to finish second, beaten just a head by Oscar Nominated, as the favourite in the Kentucky Cup Turf. Jorge Vargas Jr., aboard for the Kentucky-bred five-year-old gelding’s two most recent starts, retains the mount.
Bullards Alley (Post 7, 20-1) will be making his second appearance at Woodbine previously ending the runner-up in July’s Grade 3 Singspiel over the International’s course and distance. Conditioned by Tim Glyshaw, the five-year-old gelding became a graded stakes winner in the 2016 running of the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap, a 1 1/2 mile turf race at Churchill Downs. Woodbine’s leading rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, who has been on a tear here all season, picks up the mount.
All entrants will carry 126 pounds.
Also featured on Sunday’s card is the Grade 1 $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, at one and one-quarter miles on the turf for fillies and mares, three-year-olds and upward; the $250,000 Grade 2 Nearctic Stakes, a six furlong turf sprint for three-year-olds and upwards; and the $125,000 Grade 3 Ontario Derby, one and one-eighth mile Tapeta route for three-year-olds.
Post time on Sunday is 1 p.m. The card offers two outstanding Pick 4 guaranteed pools – $150,000 in the early one and $250,000 in the late one – while the early Pick 5 comes with a $50,000 guarantee and a special Late Pick 5 boasts a minimum $100,000 pool. Both the Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers start with a $0.20 minimum. For more information, visit HPIBet.com.
Here is the complete field in post position order for the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1):
Post – Horse – Trainer – Jockey – Morning Line Odds
1. Oscar Nominated – Michael Maker – Julien Leparoux – 8-1
2. Flamboyant – Patrick Gallagher – Joel Rosario – 6-1
3. Enterprising – Michael Maker – Rafael Hernandez – 20-1
4. Idaho – Aidan O’Brien – Ryan Moore – 5-2
5. Johnny Bear – Ashlee Brnjas – Luis Contreras – 12-1
6. Postulation – Edward Graham – Jorge A. Vargas Jr. – 12-1
7. Bullards Alley – Tim Glyshaw – Eurico Rosa da Silva – 20-1
8. Messi – H. Graham Motion – Jose Ortiz – 8-1
9. Erupt – H. Graham Motion – Junior Alvarado – 7-2
10. Chemical Charge – Ralph Beckett – Oisin Murphy – 5-1