TORONTO, September 29 – Thirty-four horses have been nominated to the 80th running of the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International (Grade 1), to be held on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, led by 2016 champion Erupt, returning challenger Idaho and world traveller Highland Reel.
In addition to the 1-1/2 mile Pattison Canadian International, two other turf stakes will be showcased on the day including the $500,000 E.P. Taylor (Grade 1) over 1-1/4 miles for fillies and mares and the $250,000 Nearctic (Grade 2) at six furlongs. The $125,000 Ontario Derby (Grade 3) over 1-1/8 miles on the Tapeta for three-year-olds will complete the stakes lineup on the undercard.
Owned by Flaxman Holdings Ltd., Erupt is expected to return to Canada for a chance at defending his Pattison Canadian International title. The five-year-old Irish-bred son of Dubawi and Mare Nostrum boasts five career wins and nearly $1.46 million in earnings from 16 starts. Last year’s International victory was his first win since kicking off his career as a three-year-old with four in a row, including the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Group 1) at Longchamp Racecourse in France.
Previously campaigned primarily overseas by trainer Francis-Henri Graffard, Erupt has settled in well with U.S.-based trainer Graham Motion following his second North American start, a fifth-place finish in the Sword Dancer Stakes (Grade 1) at Saratoga on August 26.
“He came to me right after the Sword Dancer at Saratoga,” said Motion, who has trained Thoroughbreds for Flaxman Holdings for more than five years. “He’s had a couple of works at Fair Hill since he’s been with me and everything’s gone relatively smoothly.
“They did very well with him so I’m just hoping to be able to do as well. It seems logical to me to come back to Canada with him since he ran so well up there last year, so I’m doing quite the opposite, I’m trying not to change too much.”
Impressed by the recent local performances of Albert Frassetto’s Sky Classic Stakes (Grade 2) champion Can’thelpbelieving and Gestut Brummerhof’s Messi, Motion could have more contenders in the mix for the Pattison Canadian International.
“Can’thelpbelieving has obviously run very well up there so certainly it’s a possibility for him and I’ve also been very pleased with how Messi has run up there. I thought he was a little unlucky [in the Northern Dancer (Grade 1)] when he was third – I thought he ran very well,” said Motion. “It’s a strong possibility I could bring the three of them back up. It fits in well for them.”
Full brothers Idaho and Highland Reel will be aiming to dethrone the reigning champion for trainer Aidan O’Brien and owners Mr. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Mr. Michael Tabor. Both Pattison Canadian International nominees were bred by the Hveger Syndicate in Ireland and are sired by Galileo out of the Danehill mare Hveger.
The favourite in last year’s Pattison Canadian International, Idaho crossed the wire in fifth-place, beaten 2-1/2 lengths during his Canadian debut. The millionaire four-year-old colt, who finished just behind Erupt in the Sword Dancer last time out, counts the Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2) at England’s Ascot Racecourse this past June among his three career wins. He is expected to start in Sunday’s prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Group 1) at Chantilly, France.
Highland Reel is a career winner of more than $8.6 million with six Grade 1 scores among his nine career wins. The five-year-old international turf star was last year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf winner and earned back-to-back June victories in England winning the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs and Ascot’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Leading the charge for local contenders is probable entrant Johnny Bear, fresh off his upset victory in the Northern Dancer Stakes (Grade 1) at Woodbine. That September 16 win followed a successful stakes debut in the Halton for the six-year-old gelding and was a career highlight for trainer Ashlee Brnjas, who campaigns Johnny Bear for her father’s Colebrook Farms and their partner Bear Stables Ltd.
“Just to see them win that kind of a race was amazing. That was a career high that I don’t even know I’ll ever match,” said Brnjas. “It was pretty special and no two other guys deserve it more than they do because they are such big supporters of the sport, and local sport. They really do put a lot into it so that win meant a lot.”
Patience has paid off for Johnny Bear’s connections as the six-year-old English Channel-In Return gelding, who was the 2012 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Yearling Sale topper with a price tag of $278,000, has earned five of his seven wins this season while boosting his bankroll to almost $600,000.
Brnjas indicated that the Pattison Canadian International would be a good spot for Johnny Bear, noting the race is the right distance and course that he thrives on plus it is right in his own backyard.
“I sent him home after the race for a couple of days to my training center in Uxbridge just for some down time because he’s dead fit and he ran two bang up races, so we gave him a little bit of time off and we’re going to bring him back to the track,” said Brnjas. “He’s doing wonderful. I wanted to send him home to gain some weight and just be a horse for a little while and I’m so [fortunate to have] the luxury of my dad’s training facilities that I can do that where they can just get turned out and be horses. He’s come into his own and he’s doing very, very well.”
A total of 30 fillies have been nominated to the E.P. Taylor including the Motion-trained Canadian Stakes (Grade 2) champion Quidura and fellow top three finishers Elysea’s World and Starship Jubilee as well as multiple graded stakes winners Rainha Da Bateria, Hydrangea and Rhododendron.
The Nearctic drew 24 nominees, including local standouts Pink Lloyd, who is six-for-six this year in stakes action, Yorkton, a three-time stakes winner at the Woodbine meet, and recent Bold Venture Stakes (Grade 3) champion Ikerrin Road.
Meanwhile, the Ontario Derby has attracted 15 nominees led by filly Holy Helena, who is expected to face the boys in her third start on Canadian soil this year following victories in the Woodbine Oaks and Queen’s Plate.
A full list of horses nominated to the Pattison Canadian International is available below in alphabetical order. Other stakes nominees can be viewed by clicking here.
NOMINEES FOR THE 2017 PATTISON CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL (GRADE 1)
HORSE / OWNER / TRAINER
Annals of Time – Klaravich Stables & William H. Lawrence – Chad C. Brown
Ascend – Stone Farm and Madaket Stables LLC – H. Graham Motion
Bigger Picture – Three Diamonds Farm – Michael J. Maker
Blond Me (IRE) – Mrs. Barbara M. Keller – Andrew Balding
Bullards Alley – Wayne Spalding and Faron McCubbins – Tim Glyshaw
Call Provision – Klaravich Stables & William H. Lawrence – Chad C. Brown
Can’thelpbelieving (IRE) – Albert Frassetto – H. Graham Motion
Capri (IRE) – Mr. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Mr. Michael Tabor – Aidan P. O’Brien
Chemical Charge (IRE) – Qatar Racing Limited – Ralph Beckett
Cliffs of Moher (IRE) – Mrs. John Magnier – Aidan P. O’Brien
Connecticut (GB) – Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum – Roger Varian
Desert Encounter (IRE) – Abdulia Al Mansoori – David Simcock
Dylan Mouth (IRE) – Earle I. Mack – Marco Botti
Enterprising – Maxis Stable – Michael J. Maker
Erupt (IRE) – Flaxman Holdings, Ltd. – H. Graham Motion
Fanciful Angel (IRE) – Touch Gold Racing – Chad C. Brown
Flamboyant (FR) – David Bienstock and Charles Winner – Patrick Gallagher
Highland Reel (IRE) – Mr. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Mr. Michael Tabor – Aidan P. O’Brien
Hunter O’Riley – Shay, Sean and Ryan, Michael J. – James J. Toner
Idaho (IRE) – Mr. Michael B. Tabor, Mr. Derrick Smith and Mrs. John Magnier – Aidan P. O’Brien
Johnny Bear – Colebrook Farms and Bear Stables, Ltd. – Ashlee Brnjas
Mekhtaal (GB) – Al Shaqab Racing – H. Graham Motion
Messi (GER) – Gestut Brummerhof – H. Graham Motion
Money Multiplier – Klaravich Stables & William H. Lawrence – Chad C. Brown
Oscar Nominated – Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey – Michael J. Maker
Postulation – Runnymede Racing LLC – Edward L. Graham
Red Verdon – The Hon R J Arculli – Edward A.L. Dunlop
Seeking Albert – Robert Manzilli – Michael P. De Paulo
Seventh Heaven (IRE) – Mr. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Mr. Michael Tabor – Aidan P. O’Brien
Silverwave (FR) – Hspirit – Pascal F. Bary
St. Louie – Three Diamonds Farm – Michael J. Maker
Taghleeb – Michael M. Hui – Michael J. Maker
The Grey Gatsby (IRE) – Mr. Frank Gillespie – Dermot K. Weld
Zhukova (IRE) – John D. Murrell – Dermot K. Weld