He was a half-length short as the favorite in the Queen's Plate, but Up With the Birds will get a second chance at glory Aug. 18 when he challenges nine rivals in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, final jewel of Canada's Triple Crown of Racing, at Woodbine.
At 1 1/2 miles, the Breeders' is the longest of the three-race series and the only one on turf. It kicked off with an upset win by Midnight Aria in the venerable 1 1/4-mile Queen's Plate July 7 over Woodbine's Polytrack. Uncaptured grabbed the second gem, the 1 3/16-mile Prince of Wales, over the dirt strip at Fort Erie July 30.
The 123rd edition of the Breeders' is likely to be all about Up With the Birds, who drew post 5 and was installed as the 6-5 favorite Thursday in his first start since the Queen's Plate. Sam-Son Farms' homebred son of Stormy Atlantic is the most accomplished in the field with three stakes wins, including one on turf, and $556,879 in career earnings.
After the heart-breaking loss in the Plate, in which he rallied from 10th at the half-mile pole to just miss, trainer Malcolm Pierce rested Up With the Birds by skipping the Prince of Wales to focus on the Breeders'.
"He's had no reason for time off. I just felt it was the right thing to do by the horse," said Pierce. "We decided to take a pass on the Prince of Wales and point to the Breeders' and have a very fresh horse to go a mile and a half. Hopefully our plan is the right plan and we'll know that by 5:30 on Sunday afternoon, but I feel good going into the race and I expect him to show up."
The Plate loss still stings, though,. "It's a shame he didn't get going a little bit earlier in the Queen's Plate," Pierce said. "It was a crazy day where we had a lot of rain and it made the track very speed favoring which hindered us and helped the winner. He just missed. He was running."
Eurico Rosa da Silva, who has ridden Up With the Birds in all five of his Woodbine starts, is back aboard.
With a win, Sam-Son would hold the mark for most Breeders' wins by an owner in the Triple Crown era. The stable is currently tied with Kinghaven Farms and Windfields Farms with five.
Ready for the rich Breeders' battle is Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield, who will enter 5-2 second-choice Global Express, owned by My Meadowview Stable, from post 3.
Global Express is a fresh face to the Triple Crown scene with only three career starts, all in the past 10 weeks. The son of Street Sense had modest results in his first races, both on Poly, but erupted with an 8 3/4-length score in his turf debut July 26 at 1 3/8 miles.
Attfield holds the record for most Breeders' wins by a trainer with eight. Luis Contreras, who won the race with Pender Harbour in 2011, will get the call.
Pyrite Mountain drew the rail looking to rebound from a seventh in the Queen's Plate. The son of Silent Name is 6-1 on the morning line for trainer Mark Frostad and Awesome Again Racing. Gary Boulanger makes his debut aboard the bay colt, who was fourth in an allowance/optional claiming race March 9 in his only prior start on grass. Pyrite Mountain has been working well on the turf training track; his most recent breeze Aug. 11 produced a bullet :59 1/5, best of 38 at the five-furlong distance.
"This horse is probably better on turf than he is on any other surface," Frostad said. "We got in a lot of trouble (in his first turf start), but what convinced me that he's a good turf horse is the way he closed in that race when he finally got loose. He closed a lot of ground in the stretch. I think he'll be much better on the turf. He's ready for this dash."
River Seven, at 8-1, would be the only horse to participate in all three Triple Crown events after finishing 10th in the Plate and an excellent second in the Prince of Wales. The Johannesburg gelding makes his turf debut for jockey Jesse Campbell, trainer Nick Gonzalez, and owner Tucci Stables, who teamed up to win the Queen's Plate with Midnight Aria.
This is the 10th straight year without a Triple Crown champion in Canada. Wando is the the most recent horse to achieve the impressive three-race sweep in 2003.
The race, set for a 5:10 p.m. EDT post, will be televised live in HD to Canadian audiences on Sportsnet 360 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
$500,000 Breeders' Stakes (Race 9, 5:10 p.m.), Canadian-Foaled 3YOs, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Pyrite Mountain (ON), G Boulanger, M R Frostad
2. Scipio (ON), E Wilson, R Baker
3. Global Express (ON), L Contreras, R L Attfield
4. Highland Bay (ON), J Stein, D McClachrie
5. Up With the Birds (ON), E R Da Silva, M Pierce
6. Faithful Rose (ON), R A Dos Ramos, R Singh
7. Bookies Nightmare (ON), D Moran, C M Costigan
8. Dragon Puff (ON), T Pizarro, S Di Pasquale
9. River Seven (ON), J M Campbell, N Gonzalez
10. Who's Mr. Hughes (ON), O Moreno, M Keogh
All carry 126 pounds.