With a perfect front-running ride from Frankie Dettori, Joshua Tree repelled his challengers to win the $1,531,868 Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) (VIDEO) for the second time in three years at Woodbine Oct. 14.
Able to set a deliberate pace into the stretch, the Irish-bred Joshua Tree got home under right-handed urging from Dettori. Late-running Dandino and stalker Forte Dei Marmi closed in before the wire but came up short by half a length.
Marco Botti trains the 5-year-old world traveler Joshua Tree for owners Khalid K. al Nabooda and Kamel Albahou. The son of Montjeu out of the Canadian graded stakes winner Madeira Mist, by Grand Lodge, won the 2010 Canadian International in 2010 and was second last year to the filly Sarah Lynx.
Castlemartin Stud and Skymarc Farm bred the winning bay horse.
Joshua Tree, surpassing $3 million in career earnings, went off at odds of 4-1 in the field of 10 and completed the 1 1/2-mile journey in 2:30.89 over a good turf course.
Dettori rode Joshua Tree for the first time in the Qatar Prix Foy (Fr-II) at Longchamp Sept. 16, finishing third behind Japanese superstar Orfevre.
"That was always the plan, to get to the front and dictate our own tempo," Dettori said immediately after the race. "He was third in a good race in France. But this was always the target. He's won it before, second last year. Who knows? He might be back next year."
Dettori previously won the Canadian International aboard Mutafaweq in 2000 and Sulamani in 2004.
Joshua Tree joins George Royal (1965-66) and Majesty’s Prince (1982, 1984) as the only two-time winners of the International.
"It was always the plan (to bring him back one more time) and we are delighted for him that he won for us," said Lucie Botti, wife of Marco Botti. "He is a great horse to us, very consistent and just a superstar for us."
Dandino, making his first North American start for trainer James Fanshawe, finished second with the Roger Attfield-trained Forte Dei Marmi settling for third.
The Canadian International is a Breeders' Cup Challenge series race with the winner guaranteed a fees-paid slot in this year's Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park.
Joshua Tree established a reserved tempo while leading Air Support and Lay Time by about 1 1/2 lengths, carving out a half-mile in :51.59 and a mile in 1:43.05. Air Support provided some pressure on the final turn, drawing to within about half a length but Joshua Tree kicked away again at the top of the stretch to lead by two lengths at mid-stretch.
"I was able to set my own fractions, but when I asked him to pick up, he did," Dettori said. "He fought right to the line."
Forte Dei Marmi, in a forward position for most of the trip under John Velazquez, was all out giving chase as Air Support weakened, but could not close the gap quick enough. British-bred Dandino, seventh at the quarter pole, came six wide with a furious charge for Jim Crowley, but also came up short while edging Forte Dei Marmi by a half-length for the runner-up spot.
"He ran a simply phenomenal race," Crowley said of the runner-up. "Down the lane, he was always battling back…he wouldn't quit. I had a great trip. Another stride or two and I think we could have won it."
"I had a perfect trip," Velazquez said of Forte Dei Marmi. "I was saving ground, right behind the speed, we came running and they just caught me for second. He handled the turf perfect. Good horses beat him today, that's it."
Imperial Monarch, the 9-5 favorite off a group I win in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp in July for trainer Aidan O'Brien, was well-positioned in fourth on the outside rounding the final turn. He lacked the needed response, however, and wound up sixth.
Joshua Tree, a group II winner at Deauville in August, earned $918,630. He has now banked $3,026,870 in a 20-race career that includes five wins and eight additional placings.
Carrying 126 pounds, he paid $10.70, $6.10, $4.40. Dandino returned $20.80 and $11.30 as a 25-1 outsider and rounded out a $120.80 exactor. Great Britain-bred Forte Dei Marmi paid $5.80 to show.
Wigmore Hall, winner of Woodbine's Northern Dancer (gr. IT) at the distance Sept. 16, was 1 1/4 lengths farther back in fourth. Then came Air Support, Imperial Monarch, Scalo, Reliable Man, Prince Will I Am, and Lay Time.
Trainer Bill Mott scratched Al Khali due to the softness of the course.