Eleven runners from around the globe line up for the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes (Can-IT) at Woodbine Oct. 14, one of multiple graded events on the Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT) undercard. Local hero Big Band Sound is the 3-1 favorite, but 7-2 second choice Fire Lily could roll.
Hammers Terror, Next Question, and Super Chunky are American runners in the six-furlong turf event for 3-year-olds and up, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park. The Nearctic is carded as race five with an approximate post of 3:04 p.m. EDT and will be covered live by TVG.
Fire Lily, a two-time group III winner in her native country, comes off a third in the Sept. 15 Newbridge 200 Renaissance Stakes (Ire-III) at the Curragh. Given a significant break in the weights with an impost of 115 this time out, she beat recent Qatar Prix de la Foret (Fr-I) winner Gordon Lord Byron earlier in the season carrying 129.
Best career finish for the sophomore daughter of Dansili was a runner-up effort in the Total Prix Marcel Boussac-Criterium des Pouliches (Fr-I) at Longchamp last October. David Wachman trains for Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith. She is the second choice on the morning line and races without Lasix.
Night Carnation was a group III winner in England last year. The 4-year-old Sleeping Indian filly returned to winning form for trainer Andrew Balding and owner George Strawbridge in a weight for age stakes Sept. 1 at Bath. She also gets a weight break, carrying just 114, and is 9-2 on the morning line.
The Sunday Horses Club S.L's As de Trebol won an allowance at Deauville but finished 11th last time out in the Prix des Collectivites Locales Handicap there July 29 for trainer Mauricio Delcher-Sanchez. The 6-year-old son of Tapit is the only other runner in the field not racing on Lasix.
Kendel D. Standlee's local grade II winner Big Band Sound is the 121-pound highweight and slight favorite after drawing post 8. The 5-year-old son of Bernstein finished sixth last time out and was never in contention in the Sept. 16 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT), but won the Aug. 26 Play The King Stakes (Can-IIT) by 2 1/2 lengths the start before. The victory snapped a four-race series of runner-up efforts in stakes company for the Dan Vella-trained runner, including a miss by just a neck to Riding The River in the June 24 King Edward Stakes presented by TVG (Can-IIT).
"He's just training unbelievably well," Vella said of Big Band Sound's chances. "He's doing so good right now. He's a very good horse, one who shows up every time. In the Mile, the level of competition was tough. I think the top three horses (Wise Dan, Hunters Bay, Cityscape) are world-class at that distance. We think our horse is world-class up to seven furlongs. Six or seven furlongs are his best distances."
Vella is certainly no stranger to Nearctic success, having won the race on four occasions. His first triumph came with Dargai in 1990. He then had back-to-back wins in 1994 and 1995 with King Ruckus and Wild Zone, respectively. Three years ago, Field Commission took top honours.
"I've had good luck in this race," he said. "That's the toughest part about being a trainer...to get good horses in your barn. But we've got a good one in Big Band Sound. He's a lovely horse. He's a big, cocky guy, not mean, but one who likes to throw his weight around from time to time."
Regular ride Tyler Pizarro once again gets the call.
"He's a very adaptable horse," Vella remarked. "He can sit close if he has to, or he can come from way back. Tyler suits the horse well, has great hands and puts them in the right spots. Tyler is very talented and patient."
Another intriguing local is the 6-year-old Grand Slam runner Grand Adventure, a grade II winner who makes his third consecutive start in the Nearctic. He was second in the 2010 edition and finished fourth last year for trainer Malcolm Pierce and Sam-Son Farms.
Of the American contingent, Hamners Terror merits a look. Fourth in an Aug. 18 overnight stakes at Arlington Park last out and winner of the July 28 Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury one start prior, the sophomore son of Artie Schiller shortens back from the mile distances he's been tackling for trainer Michael Stidham. He already won at Woodbine this year, taking the June 23 Charlie Barley Stakes for owner Terry Hamilton.