TORONTO, June 27—Tower of Texas, who has been riding high both home and on the road for several years now, tops a field of eightfor Saturday’s Grade 2 King Edward.
The King Edward, a one-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and upward, offers a purse of $175,000.
Tower of Texas, a 7-year-old gelding, will be making his fourth consecutive appearance in the King Edward, winning the race in convincing fashion in 2015 and then finishing third in back-to-back campaigns.
Trained by Roger Attfield, Tower of Texas doesn’t appear to be slowing down much at his relatively advanced age as he won the Colonel Bradley Handicap over 1-1/16 miles of soft turf at the Fair Grounds this winter and then finished a closing second when making his local seasonal bow in the Grade 2 Connaught Cup.
In the Connaught Cup, a seven-furlong turf race which Tower of Texas won in his seasonal bow last year, the late-runner was forced to swing five-wide and was unable to hunt down the invading Caribou Club.
“It was a good race,” said Attfield, who trains the Ontario-bred Tower of Texas for Thomas Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth. “He’s always subject to pace.”
Shakhimat, also trained by Attfield, may be able to assist his stablemate in that department but is a threat also in his own right.
A 5-year-old gelding owned by Attfield in partnership with Dan Gale and Bill Werner, Shakhimat has won Grade 3 turf stakes at one mile and 1 1/16 miles on the front end but has faltered badly in his three most recent outings.
“There’s no reason for him not to go in there but he’s got to start showing me something,” “said the trainer. “I think he has his own mind about things. He’s subject to the way the race is run, too.”
Ring Weekend, also 7 years old, has plenty of back class but is coming off a couple of sub-par performances.
“He’s been a little bit frustrating, because he came back and ran super at Gulfstream, and seemed like his old self,” said Graham Motion, who trains Ring Weekend for West Point Thoroughbreds. “But then he’s just been off—getting beat a couple of lengths, here and there, in his last few races.”
Motion still feels that it’s too soon to write off Ring Weekend, who scored the most important win of his career in the 2015 running of the Grade 1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile on Santa Anita’s turf course.
“It’s possible to say he’s lost a step, but if he has I don’t see it in the morning,” said Motion. “That’s kind of why we thought we’d take a shot in a nice race like this, on a nice turf course. If he’s on his game there’s no reason he shouldn’t be competitive if he can get a good setup, going a mile.”
First Premio, owned by Team Valor International, was marching his way through the allowance ranks when last seen locally on the Tapeta.
The 4-year-old finished second in a pair of listed stakes on turf this year before adding blinkers and putting it all together in a tough optional $100,000 claiming race over 1 1/16 miles of turf at Churchill Downs last time out.
“He’s a nice horse,” said Casse, who also will send out Conquest Panthera for the King Edward. “I think he’s an up-and-coming star. His win at Churchill was very impressive. I think he should run well here.”
Conquest Panthera’s best win came in last year’s Connaught Cup and led to a decent seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile won by his stablemate World Approval.
Making his local seasonal bow this year for owner Gary Barber, Conquest Panthera was a close third and just a head behind Tower of Texas.
“He’s doing well.,” said Casse. “He’s kind of a funny horse; I’m not sure what his best distance is. Three-quarters might be a little short, and a mile might be a little far, but we’re going to give it a try.”
Conquest Panthera was supplemented to the King Edward at a cost of $3,500.
Caribou Club, who left Tower of Texas 1 1/2 lengths back when upsetting the Connaught Cup, will be looking to duplicate that success as he returns from Fair Hill for trainer Tom Proctor.
The 4-year-old gelding, owned and bred by Glen Hill Farm, had won the Henry B. Clark over one mile of Laurel’s turf course In his only earlier outing this season.
Delta Prince, who has been based in New York with trainer Jimmy Jerkins, will be making his seasonal bow and seeking his first graded stakes win in the King Edward.
The Stronach Stable homebred last saw action on Sept. 4 in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Bernard Baruch and was third, beaten 2 ½ lengths by the subsequent two-time Grade 1 winner Heart to Heart, over 1 1/16 miles of grass.
Rounding out the field will be Hollywood Hideaway, who was just 1 ½ lengths back as the fifth-place finisher in last year’s Connaught Cup.
FIELD FOR THE KING EDWARD
POST / HORSE / JOCKEY / TRAINER
1 / Hollywood Hideaway / Luis Contreras / Barb Minshall
2 / Ring Weekend / Jose Ortiz / Graham Motion
3 / Tower of Texas / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Roger Attfield
4 / First Premio / Florent Geroux / Mark Casse
5 / Shakhimat / Rafael Hernandez / Roger Attfield
6 / Conquest Panthera / Patrick Husbands / Mark Casse
7 / Caribou Club / Gary Boulanger / Tom Proctor
8 / Delta Prince / Javier Castellano / James Jerkens