Solitaire, the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes at Woodbine Aug. 3, tries to become the first maiden winner of the 118-year-old event since Fair Montague in 1915.
Third in the Queen’s Plate, W.L. Clifton’s Solitaire and Frank Stronach's improving Sligovitz top a wide-open edition of the 1 1/2-mile turf event, the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown for 3-year-olds. Ten are set to go.
For the fifth straight year, there is no Triple Crown winner. Not Bourbon, winner of the Queen's Plate, was defeated by Harlem Rocker in the middle jewel, the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie. The last horse to collect the Triple Crown was Wando in 2003. Only seven horses have accomplished the feat since the series was inaugurated in 1959.
James Bond trains Solitaire, who will be ridden from post nine by Robert Landry. The Victory Gallop gelding has one second and two thirds in three lifetime starts. The chestnut heads into the race with losses to Not Bourbon in the Queen’s Plate, when beaten by 4 1/2 lengths, and Plate Trial (second, beaten a neck). In his debut, on the turf at Gulfstream Park in April, Solitaire finished third, beaten a length by Stormy Mirage.
Sligovitz, the 7-2 second choice, runs for trainer Brian Lynch. The Sligo Bay colt has won his last two starts and is making his stakes debut. Todd Kabel gets the call from post three.
“He’s certainly heading in the right direction,” said Lynch, who saddled Royal Challenger to a win in the 2006 Breeders’. “We started out hoping he would make one leg of the Triple Crown, but he ran a couple of clunkers so we gave him some time to regroup. I always felt he would be at his best on turf. His last two races were very impressive.”
Palmers is the 4-1 third choice from post two for Melnyk Racing Stables and trainer Mark Casse. The Grand Slam colt is win shy with one victory in 10 starts, but has produced several strong efforts, including a fifth-place finish in the Queen’s Plate. He has a runner-up finish in his lone turf start. Patrick Husbands will ride. The owner-trainer-jockey combo looks to repeat in the Breeders’ after taking the race in 2007 with Marchfield.
Gus Schickedanz’s Marlang (post four, 8-1) is one of two stakes winners in the Breeders’ field. The Deborah England trainee scored the Charlie Barley Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths over Gun Highway on June 21 over the Woodbine turf. A third-place effort in the Toronto Cup followed for the Langfuhr colt.
East End Tap (post one, 10-1) is one of only two horses that will have competed in all three Triple Crown races. The Reade Baker trainee finished sixth in the Plate, before his runner-up effort at Fort Erie, where he was beaten 1 1/4 lengths by Harlem Rocker at 21-1. The Pleasant Tap colt makes his turf debut for Sheik Yobuti Racing Stable.
Deputiformer (post five, 12-1) is the other Triple Crown warrior in the field, having finished fourth in the Plate and fifth in the Prince of Wales. David James’ Silver Deputy gelding is also a turf stakes winner, having captured the Cup & Saucer Stakes as a 2-year-old for his only victory in 10 lifetime starts last October.
”He definitely handles the turf,” said trainer Mike DePaulo. “Hopefully, the grass will move him up enough where he can get the 1 1/2 miles.”
Rounding out the field are Pronger, Mamma’s Knight, Cryptonite Kid and 20-1 outsider Go in Peace, also a maiden.
Not Bourbon and Harlem Rocker will not participate. Not Bourbon is being pointed to a fall campaign, while Harlem Rocker is expected to make his next start in Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga on Aug. 23.
$500,000 Breeders' Stakes (Race 9, 5:08 p.m.), 3-Year-Old Canadian Breds, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, ML Odds
1. East End Tap (ON), Slade Callaghan, 10/1
2. Palmers (ON), Patrick Husbands, 4/1
3. Sligovitz (ON), Todd Kabel, 7/2
4. Marlang (ON), Richard A. Dos Ramos, 8/1
5. Deputiformer (ON), Jerry Baird, 12/1
6. Pronger (ON), Eurico Rosa Da Silva, 15/1
7. Go in Peace (ON), Steven R. Bahen, 20/1
8. Mamma's Knight (ON), James McAleney, 15/1
9. Solitaire (ON), Robert C. Landry, 5/2
10. Cryptonite Kid (AB), Tyler Pizarro, 15/1
Each assigned 126 pounds.