TORONTO, October 24 – Forte Dei Marmi, Slumber, Hyper and defending champion Joshua Tree top a very competitive field of 11 for the $1 million, Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Sunday at Woodbine. The 11 hopefuls were bred in Great Britain, United States, Ireland, France and Canada.
In addition to the mile and one-half Pattison turf event, one of Canada’s richest thoroughbred races (the other $1 million races are the Queen’s Plate and Woodbine Mile), another Grade 1 turf stake will highlight the undercard – the $500,000 E.P. Taylor, at one mile and one-quarter for fillies and mares.
The 76th edition of the International will go postward at 5:42 pm ET. Sportsnet 360 will provide special live coverage across Canada from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm ET. This marks the 11th year that Pattison Outdoor, Canada’s largest outdoor advertising company, has sponsored Woodbine’s turf classic, which rewards the winner with $600,000. All horses carry 126 pounds, except Irish Mission, the only filly in the field (she is also cross-entered in the E.P. Taylor Stakes), who will lug 123 pounds and three-year-old Stormy Len, who carries 119 pounds.
James Hinchcliffe, Oakville’s rising star on the IZOD IndyCar circuit, was the guest drawmaster when the post position draw took place Thursday at Woodbine.
Stella Perdomo’s Forte Dei Marmi (PP8, 3-1), one of two Pattison hopefuls trained by Roger Attfield (the other is Perfect Timber), enters on a three-race win streak, having captured the Singspiel on July 7, Sky Classic on August 18 and Grade 1 Northern Dancer on September 15. Established as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favourite, Forte Dei Marmi was the last horse drawn in the post position draw, getting post eight.
The seven-year-old British-bred gelded son of Selkirk-Frangy also finished a good third, one length behind winner Joshua Tree, who he’ll face again this Sunday, in last year’s International.
Attfield, one of only a handful of horsemen inducted into both the Canadian and U.S. Racing Hall of Fame, is still seeking his first International win, after finishing second on three occasions – with Spice Route in 2008, Alywow in 1994 and Steady Power in 1989. Eurico Rosa da Silva, who leads all Woodbine riders with 24 stakes victories, rides Forte Dei Marmi, his first International mount.
“I’m quite happy with the post positions for both horses,” said Attfield. “Yes, he’s (Forte Dei Marmi) in great shape. Both horses are really, really doing well. It would appear that Forte Dei Marmi has been in good form for a little while now. I just hope we can keep him there for a bit longer.”
Juddmonte Farms’ Slumber (PP11, 4-1), a lightly-raced British-bred five-year-old son of Cacique-Sound Asleep, comes into the International off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park on September 28, just one and one-quarter lengths behind Breeders’ Cup Turf-bound defending champion Little Mike, two-time Grade 1 winner Big Blue Kitten and Arlington Million winner Real Solution.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who won the 1995 International with Lassigny, and to be ridden for the first time by another Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Slumber will try to give Juddmonte a record fourth victory in the turf classic (since 1958), following French Glory in 1990, Raintrap in 1994 and Champs Elysees in 2009.
“He kind of had to wait to make his run (in the Turf Classic),” explained Mott. “Maybe if he had got clear a little earlier he could have benefitted and been a little closer.”
Trainer Chad Brown will saddle the third choice, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Hyper (PP1, 5-1) for the Pattison. The six-year-old son of Canadian-bred Hall of Famer Victory Gallop, out of Raw Nerve, is on a two-race win streak, having taken the Johns Call at Saratoga July 31, then the Grade 2 Bowling Green at Belmont Park on September 7.
The Ramseys set a races-won record at Keeneland this year and are the continent’s leading money- winning owners with $10.8 million in purses. Joel Rosario, who won the Dubai World Cup in March on Animal Kingdom and the Kentucky Derby on Orb in May, climbs aboard Hyper for the first time.
Joshua Tree (PP5, 6-1), who won the 2010 and 2012 editions of the Pattison, makes his fourth consecutive appearance, trying to become the first three-time winner of the race. The Irish-bred six-year-old son of champion Montjeu-Madeira Mist, now trained by Ed Dunlop of Ouija Board and Snow Fairy fame, will be ridden by Ryan Moore, who finished second aboard Ask, a nose behind Cloudy’s Knight, in the 2007 Pattison.
In 2010, Joshua Tree won for trainer Aidan O’Brien. In 2011, when he finished second, and in 2012, he was trained by Marco Botti for owners Khalid Nabooda and Kamel Albahou.
Joshua Tree, far and way the field’s leading money winner with over $3.1 million, is nonetheless winless in six starts since last year’s International victory over Dandino and Forte Dei Marmi and enters the Pattison off a 13th place finish to wonder filly Treve in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 6.
Pandora Stud’s Lucayan (PP3, 8-1), a French-bred four-year-old by Turtle Bowl-La Vltava, is trained by Hall of Famer Neil Drysdale, the conditioner of 2008 International winner Marsh Side, who, like Joshua Tree, made four consecutive appearances in the race from 2007-2010.
Third to Breeders’ Cup Turf-bound Indy Point in the September 29, Grade 2 John Henry Turf Classic at Santa Anita, Lucayan, winless in five starts this year in North America, will be reunited with French jockey Stephane Pasquier on Sunday. Pasquier was aboard Lucayan for his two wins last year in France, including the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) at Longchamp.
Robert Evans’ Irish Mission (PP10, 20-1), an Ontario-bred four-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway-Misty Mission, has won only one of her seven outings this year, but most recently finished fourth, only a length behind Forte Dei Marmi in the Northern Dancer on September 15. Evans also owned 2008 International winner Marsh Side, the highest-priced winner in race history ($61.20).
Last year, the chestnut filly scored in the Woodbine Oaks and Breeders’ Stakes and was runner-up to Strait of Dover in the Queen’s Plate, en route to Sovereign Awards as Canada’s top three-year-old filly and top female turfer.
Trained by Hall of Famer Mark Frostad, who won the 1997 Canadian International with Chief Bearhart, Irish Mission will be ridden by Gary Boulanger, as she tries to become just the seventh filly or mare to win since 1958 (the latest was Sarah Lynx in 2011) and the sixth different Canadian-bred to win (the latest was Thornfield in 1999).
The other Canadian-bred in the race is Charles Fipke’s Ontario homebred four-year-old Perfect Timber (PP4, 12-1), a son of Perfect Soul-Timber Ice. His sire was fourth in the 2002 International but became a Grade 1-winning miler the following year, taking the Shadwell.
Perfect Timber, also trained by Roger Attfield and to be ridden by another Hall of Famer John Velazquez, did not get to the races at two or three. He began his career successfully at Gulfstream Park in April and has hooked stablemate Forte Dei Marmi in three consecutive stakes, most recently falling a neck short in the Northern Dancer.
Velazquez, Attfield and Fipke teamed to produce a shocker in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Churchill Downs, when Perfect Shirl won the Grade 1 event at 27-1.
Irish-bred Seismos (PP9, 10-1), owned and bred by Gestut Karlshof and trained by Andreas Wohler, won the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Bayern at Munich on August 11 before finishing second to highly-regarded stablemate Novellist in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden September 1 at Baden-Baden. The five-year-old gelded son of Dalakhani-Sasuela, a winner in five of 17 career starts, will be ridden Andrea Atzeni. Wohler has finished second twice in the International – with Paolini in 2001 and Simonas in 2004.
Stormy Len (PP6, 20-1), a Kentucky-bred three-year-old son of Harlan’s Holiday-Rietondale, is trained by David Donk for owners Leonard Leveen and Michael Shanley. Most recently sixth to Canadian-bred Up With the Birds in the Grade 1 Jamaica at Belmont Park on October 5, after finishing a close third, one length behind Forte Dei Marmi and Perfect Timber in the Northern Dancer, Stormy Len, a two-time winner in 11 starts, will be ridden by Hall of Famer Edgar Prado.
Niall Racing’s Temeraine (PP2, 15-1), a four-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding by Arch-Lonely Fact, enters off a victory in the Grade 3, mile and one-half Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs on September 14. In his previous start, he was fifth to The Apache and Real Solution in the Arlington Million. The five-time winner, trained by Tom Proctor, will be ridden by Woodbine’s leading rider Luis Contreras.
Now We Can (PP7, 20-1), a British-bred four-year-old by Martillo-Notre Dame, has won five of seven starts for French trainer Nicolas Clement, the brother of U.S.-based conditioner Christophe Clement. Owned by Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Now We Can, who most recently finished seventh to Orfevre, the Arc runner-up, in the Prix Foy on September 15 at Longchamp, will be ridden by Thierry Thulliez.
Since 1958, U.S.-breds have captured 27 editions, followed by Irish-breds (12) and British-breds (seven). The stakes record for the mile and one-half over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course is 2:25 3/5 seconds, set by Juddmonte Farms’ Raintrap in 1994. The largest winning margin still belongs to the incomparable Secretariat, when ‘Big Red’ coasted home by six and one-half lengths in his farewell appearance in 1973. He is also the shortest-priced winner in history, paying $2.40. Favourites have won the International 21 of 55 times (38.2%) since 1958, the last to do so being Champs Elysees, at 5-2 in 2009 and before him, Sulamani, the 4-5 choice in 2004.
The Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes will go postward at 4:38 pm (ET) and has drawn a field of 10, headed by New York-based Tannery, winner of the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay and recent runner-up to Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf-bound Laughing in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl, Minakshi, winner of the recent Grade 2 Canadian at Woodbine, and Colonial Flag, the Canadian runner-up to her stablemate.