TORONTO, September 30 – Second Step, Sheikhzayedroad and Up With the Birds are among 20 nominated to the 78th running of the $1-million Pattison Canadian International, to be held Sunday, October 18, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
In addition to the mile and one-half Pattison, one of Canada’s richest thoroughbred races (the other $1 million races are the Queen’s Plate and Ricoh Woodbine Mile), two other turf stakes will be showcased on the day – the Grade 1, $500,000 E.P. Taylor, at one mile and one-quarter for fillies and mares and the Grade 2, $300,000 Nearctic at six furlongs.
The Pattison Canadian International will be broadcast live on TSN5 from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. EST. Masai Ujiri, President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors, will be the guest drawmaster for the post-position draw slated for Thursday, October 15 at Woodbine.
Up With the Birds, Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion three-year-old colt in 2013 under the tutelage of trainer Malcolm Pierce, will make his first start on home turf since July 19, 2014 when Eurico Rosa da Silva guided the Sam-Son Farm homebred to a four-length score in the Grade 2 Nijinsky Stakes.
The five-year-old bay, who was moved to the barn of trainer Graham Motion for his 2015 campaign, has posted a pair of third-place finishes in four starts this season completing the triactor in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico and the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park.
His best effort, however, may have come in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, when fourth, defeated less than three lengths by The Pizza Man, over a yielding turf.
"He’s a lovely horse. Malcolm obviously did a great job with him. He’s run a couple of really good races for us and my frustration is that I haven’t been able to get him to the winner’s circle yet," said Motion. "He ran a huge race in the Arlington Million on tough ground. They had a huge amount of rain right before the race that day and I thought he ran well."
Last time out, Up With the Birds finished fourth of seven in the Grade 2 Commonwealth Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf event at Laurel.
"I thought the race at Laurel might be a good spot to get him back on track, but clearly it was a little shorter than his best distance, so that’s why we decided to head back up to Canada and point for this race,” said Motion.
Undefeated in two tries over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, Motion is hopeful for a good result in the 12-furlong test as the bay has come out of the Commonwealth Cup in good order.
"He’s done well. He’s a very straight forward horse. He’s not an exceptional work horse by any means, and talking to Malcolm, that’s how he’s always been. But, he’s a very kind horse and always tries," said Motion.
John Velazquez will pilot Up With the Birds in the International.
Second Step, a four-year-old Dalakhani gelding trained by Luca Cumani for owner-breeder Merry Fox Stud Limited, posted a Group 1 victory at Hoppegarten in Germany taking the 1 1/2-mile Grosser Preis von Berlin by three-quarters of a length in August. Last time out, the Irish-bred bay finished fourth to Order of St. George in the 1 3/4-mile Palmerston House Estate Irish St. Leger.
Sheikhzayedroad, a six-year-old Dubawi bay, will look to maintain his perfect record on Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course for trainer David Simcock and owner Mohammed Jaber. Last year, Sheikhzayedroad made his Canadian debut a winning one by rallying last-to-first to win the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes under jockey Martin Lane. The well-traveled gelding, who has won in Canada, England and Dubai, boasts a career record of 8-4-5 from 29 starts and banked in excess of $840,000.
There are four fillies or mares on the list including Button Down, Habibi, Pollyanna and Sea Calisi of which all but Pollyanna are cross-entered in the E.P. Taylor Stakes.
Last year, Sir Evelyn De Rothschild’s Hillstar, trained by Sir Michael Stoute and ridden by champion jockey Ryan Moore, collared the leaders turning for home and went on to post a three-quarters of a length win over Big Blue Kitten.
The largest winning margin in the International still belongs to the incomparable Secretariat, when ‘Big Red’ coasted home by six and one-half lengths in his farewell appearance in 1973.
A full list of nominated horses is available below.
NOMINEES FOR THE GRADE 1 $1-MILLION Pattison Canadian International
HORSE / OWNER / TRAINER
Aldous Snow / Sam-Son Farm / Malcolm Pierce
Button Down / Greenwood Lodge Farm Inc. / Josie Carroll
Cannock Chase / Rabbah Bloodstock LLC. / Sir Michael R. Stoute
Da Big Hoss / Skychai Racing LLC / Michael Maker
Danish Dynaformer / Charles Fipke / Roger Attfield
Habibi / Augustin Stable / Mark Frostad
Interpol / JMJ Racing Stables LLC / Sid Attard
Kaigun / G. Barber, Quintessential Racing Florida LLD. & Horse’n Around Racing Stable / Mark Casse
Karaktar / His Highness The Aga Khan / Alain de Royer Dupre
Lucky Speed / Gestut Ittlingen / Peter Schiergen
Pender Harbour / D. Andrews, S. Lazaruk and Bob & Roberta Giffin / Mike DePaulo
Pollyanna / Emma Kennedy / John Hammond
Power Ped / Stepaside Farms LLC / Neil Drysdale
Reporting Star / Copper Water Thoroughbred Company / Pat Parente
Scottish / Mrs. Fitri Hay / Andrew Balding
Sea Calisi / Martin Schwartz / Francois Doumen
Second Step / Merry Fox Stud / Luca Cumani
Sheikhzayedroad / Mohammed Jaber / David Simcock
Triple Threat / Team Valor International and Gary Barber / Bill Mott
Up With the Birds / Sam-Son Farm / Graham Motion
For a full listing of nominees for the October 18 card of racing, complete with past performances, click into our thoroughbred resources page.