Marsh Side Stuns International Stars
Photo: Michael Burns
Marsh Side and Javier Castellano upset the Pattison Canadian Invitational.

Marsh Side emerged from the pack at the midpoint of Woodbine's long homestretch to post a 29-1 upset on the turf in the $1,851,250 Pattison Canadian International (Can-I) (VIDEO) for Southern California trainer Neil Drysdale.

With Javier Castellano aboard, the Robert S. Evans Kentucky homebred Marsh Side held off Spice Route, an even bigger outsider at odds of 38-1, by 1 3/4 lengths, completing the 1 1/2-mile course in 2:28.73 on firm ground. The $2 exacta paid a whopping $1,062.20. The victory guarantees Marsh Side, a 5-year-old son of Gone West, a place in Oak Tree's Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Oct. 25. Marsh Side became the biggest priced winner of the Canadian International since it became a turf race in 1958.

Northern Dancer (Can-I) winner Champs Elysees had a clear shot at the leaders on the grandstand side, but finished third. Doctor Dino, the 6-5 favorite in the field of 10, also made a menacing move in upper stretch but flattened out to finish fifth behind Seaside Retreat, four lengths behind the winner. 

Marsh Side ran fourth in the Sept. 7 Northern Dancer, his first start in more than two months, but finished only three-quarters of a length behind Champs Elysees. The bay horse had lost eight straight races, last winning in December 2006 on Woodbine's Polytrack in the Valedictory Stakes.

“That’s the first time I rode the horse,” said Castellano. “But I had been watching him in his last couple of races. He was up near the pace all the way and that’s a long way to go – a mile and a half. Every time I asked him at the top of the stretch, he responded.”

For Drysdale, it was his first win in the International, but the Hall of Fame conditioner has enjoyed plenty of success at Woodbine, having taken the Woodbine Mile (Can-III) on three occasions.

“He (Marsh Side) knows the track and he’s done so well here, we knew we were on a winner,” said Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, racing manager for Robert Evans. “He ran in the Northern Dancer and was just three-quarters of a length off winner Champs Elysees, so we all decided to come back and give it another try. The ground was a little firmer today than it was in the Northern Dancer. I think, California, here we come.”

Castellano stalked the leaders with Marsh Side in third behind a dawdling pace (:24.91, :50.63 and 1:15.61) established by Lucarno, moving closer to the front-runner late on the final turn. Marsh Side took a slight lead in upper stretch and gradually gained a 1 1/2-length lead with a furlong left. He finished in a full drive as Spice Route, racing well off the pace for James McAleney, rallied five wide. The British-bred Spice Route edged Champs Elysees by a neck for second but was not a threat to the winner. It was 1 1/2 lengths to Seaside Retreat with Doctor Dino another half-length behind.

Mourilyan, Lauro, Lucarno, Quijano and Marlang completed the order.

Marsh Side, who ran last of 12 in the 2007 Canadian International, earned $1,109,640 for his fifth victory in 18 lifetime starts. He had previously banked $348,915. It was just his second win 10 turf starts.

The winner, who is out of the Pleasant Colony mare Colonial Play, paid $61.20, $23 and $15.60. Spice Route, fifth last time out in the Northern Dancer for trainer Roger Attfield, returned $35.50 and $15.50. Juddmonte's British-bred Champs Elysees, the co-second choice for trainer Bobby Frankel with Quijano, was $4.50 to show. The $2 trifecta was worth $9,656.50.

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