European invaders Brown Panther and Hillstar will be well-backed in their initial North American starts as part of a competitive field of 10 expected for the $1 million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) at Woodbine Oct. 19.
The 77th edition of 1 1/2-mile Pattison, one of Canada's richest races, is the first of three graded stakes on the Woodbine turf Sunday. It is the sixth race with a scheduled post time of 3:32. p.m. ET. The other featured turf events on the program are the the $500,000 E.P. Taylor (Can-IT), at 1 1/4 miles for fillies and mares, and the $300,000 Nearctic (Can-IIT) at six furlongs.
TSN will provide special live coverage across Canada from 3 to 4 p.m ET, and the entire Woodbine card will be presented in the United States over TVG. This marks the 12th year that Pattison Outdoor, Canada's largest outdoor advertising company, has sponsored Woodbine's turf classic. All horses carry 126 pounds.
British-bred Brown Panther, who drew post 4, is the 2-1 morning line choice. The 6-year-old son of 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Shirocco arrives from England after winning the Irish St. Leger (Ire-I), the 1 3/4-mile classic held Sept. 14 at the Curragh. Brown Panther prevailed by 6 1/2 lengths as a 14-1 outsider.
Trained by Tom Dascombe for owners Andrew Black and former star English footballer Michael Owen (Owen Promotions), Brown Panther has been a successful world traveler with 10 wins from 24 outings. He has campaigned in England, Germany, Ireland, France, and Australia while banking more than $1.1 million. Richard Kingscote, who has been aboard for all but four of his starts, will ride.
The main question is whether the 12-furlong distance might be a bit short for him.
"He's won two listed races over a mile-and-a-half and he was just beaten about four lengths in the King George (Eng-I) over a mile-and- a half," said Dascombe. "As long as there's a nice pace in the race it won't bother him. He won't want a crawl."
Brown Panther has a pair of group III wins earlier in the year at distance of about 2 1/16 miles and 1 11/16 miles.
Sir Evelyn De Rothschild's 4-year-old Hillstar is in post 7 at a morning line of 5-1 for trainer Sir Michael Stoute, who won the Canadian International in 1996 with champion Singspiel and has placed on three other occasions. Another British-bred, the son of Danehill Dancer is to be ridden by champion jockey Ryan Moore, who teamed with Joshua Tree to win the Canadian International last year.
Hillstar enters off a group III win at Newbury Sept. 20, his first victory in six starts this year while also boasting four runner-up finishes. The bay colt won the 2013 King Edward VII Stakes (Eng-II) at the 1 1/2-mile distance at Ascot prior to finishing third in the prestigious King Geoge VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Eng-I). He was 14th in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) in March on a synthetic surface, his most recent try at the top level.
"We're really happy with this fellow," said Stoute. "He didn't handle that track in Dubai, but in England he's been ultra-consistent; he's run some good solid races, won his last at Newbury, comes into the race in good shape, and appears to have traveled well.
"It was very slow ground (his last start) but he's impervious to ground conditions, actually. He goes on any ground. I think a mile-and-a-half is his best trip. (Brown Panther) beat me at Chester in May but that was (at 1 11//16). He just outstayed me that day. I would be hopeful I could beat him at a mile and a half."
Trainer Chad Brown will saddle Ken and Sarah Ramsey's homebred Big Blue Kitten , a dual grade I winner breaking from post 9 while pegged at 3-1. The Kentucky-bred 6-year-old son of Ramsey foundation sire Kitten's Joy is the field's leading money winner with almost $1.3 million.
Lightly-raced this season with only three starts, Big Blue Kitten will be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. He enters off a close fourth-place finish to Breeders' Cup-bound Main Sequence in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park Sept. 27. Last year, he won four of eight races, including the grade I triumphs in the United Nations at Monmouth Park and Sword Dancer at Saratoga Race Course.
About his most recent race, the Turf Classic, Brown said, "It was a little disappointing. We really liked him going into the race. There wasn't a lot of pace in the race. It wasn't a bad effort but it wasn't a winning effort, either. But he came out of the race in great shape, he's training well."
The Ramseys, Brown and Rosario teamed to finish second to Joshua Tree in last year's Canadian International with Hyper.
Midwest Thoroughbreds' The Pizza Man, breaking from post 2 while listed at 6-1 on the early line, is ridden by Florent Geroux and trained by Roger Brueggemann. The Pizza Man makes a return appearance to Woodbine after finishing fifth as the 6-5 favorite in the Northern Dancer (Can-IT) Sept. 14, his first loss in four starts this season.
In three previous outings, the 5-year-old Illinois-bred gelded son of turf champion English Channel won the American St. Leger, Stars and Stripes (gr. IIIT), and the restricted Black Tie Affair, all stakes at Arlington International Race Course near Chicago.
Team Block's Suntracer (12-1), another 6-year-old son of Kitten's Joy, captured the Kentucky Turf Cup (Gr. IIIT) Sep. 13 for trainer Chris Block. Another entrant coming out of the Kentucky Turf Cup is third-place finisher War Dancer (12-1), a 4-year-old son of War Front who was favored that day for trainer Ken McPeek.
One of two Canadian-breds in the race is John Oxley's Dynamic Sky (15-1), trained by Mark Casse and ridden by Patrick Husbands. Since 1958, when the International became a turf race, five different Canadian-breds have won, the latest being Thornfield in 1999. The others were Chief Bearhart (1997), Sky Classic (1991), He's a Smoothie (1967), and George Royal (1965 and 1966).
Dynamic Sky, a 4-year-old son of Sky Mesa , was third in last year's Queen's Plate and enters off a close second-place finish in the Northern Dancer, his best effort yet in four turf appearances.
Bortolazzo Stable's Pyrite Mountain (12-1), trained by Todd Pletcher, returns to Woodbine after being sold and campaigned in the United States in his first three races this year, all narrow second place finishes. The Ontario-bred by Silent Name enters off a tough nose loss to Suntracer in the Kentucky Turf Cup. Jamie Spencer, who last month won the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) aboard Trade Storm, has been named to ride.
Reporting Star (20-1), a good third last time in the Northern Dancer after setting the pace, and O'Prado Ole, fourth in the Kentucky Turf Cup, complete the field.
Woodbine, Sunday, October 19, 2014, Race 6
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1O'Prado Ole (KY) Channing Hill 126 Dale L. Romans - 2 2The Pizza Man (IL) Florent Geroux 126 Roger A. Brueggemann - 3 3Suntracer (IL) Carlos H. Marquez, Jr. 126 Chris M. Block - 4 4Brown Panther (GB) Richard Kingscote 126 Thomas Dascombe - 5 5Dynamic Sky (ON) Patrick Husbands 126 Mark E. Casse - 6 6War Dancer (KY) Luis Contreras 126 Kenneth G. McPeek - 7 7Hillstar (GB) Ryan L. Moore 126 Sir Michael R. Stoute - 8 8Pyrite Mountain (ON) Jamie P. Spencer 126 Todd A. Pletcher - 9 9Big Blue Kitten (KY) Joel Rosario 126 Chad C. Brown - 10 10Reporting Star (FL) Justin Stein 126 Pat Parente -
Woodbine, Sunday, October 19, 2014, Race 6