Marsh Side returns to defend his title in the $2-million Pattison Canadian International (Can-I) over the Woodbine turf course Oct. 17 against a field that includes German group I winner Jukebox Jury.
The 1 1/2-mile event, which can be viewed in the United States over TVG at approximately 5:40 p.m. EDT, is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series and automatically qualifies the winner for the $3-million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) to be held Nov. 7 at Santa Anita Park. The 10th race on the program, the Canadian International is joined by two other "Win and You're In" turf events -- the $1-million E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) for fillies and mares at 10 furlongs, and the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes (Can-IIT) at six furlongs.
Robert S. Evans' homebred Marsh Side won last year's Canadian International at odds of 29-1 for trainer Neil Drysdale and faces a couple of other returnees from the 2008 race, runner-up Spice Route and third-place finisher Champs Elysees. The 6-year-old son of Gone West finished first in Woodbine's Northern Dancer Stakes (Can-I) in his most recent start Sept. 20, but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference in the stretch. He is the 7-2 second choice as he defends his crown.
The early favorite at 5-2 is the Irish-bred Jukebox Jury, who scored a nose victory over Eastern Anthem in the Preis von Europa (Ger-I) at Cologne Sept. 27. Trained in Great Britain by Mark Johnston for owner Alan Spence, the gray 3-year-old son of Montjeu won the Grand Prix de Deauville (Fr-II), also by a nose in France a month earlier. He also captured the Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes (Eng-II) at Royal Ascot as a 2-year-old.
Jukebox Jury, the only 3-year-old in the field, gets a seven-pound weight break from his rivals and will carry 119. Regular rider Royston Ffrench will be aboard.
"He's a very tough horse,” Jock Bennett, Johnston’s traveling head lad, told the media after the Cologne victory. “This horse never wins by a long margin, but when he gets in a fight he is very tough and very hard to beat.”
Named for a popular sixties British television show, Jukebox Jury will be making his first start outside of Europe. He has won five of 11 races in his career with earnings of $659,815.
Bennett doesn't think Jukebox Jury's unfamiliarity with North American racing will be hinderance.
“I believe he will appreciate the course itself and the long stretch,” said Bennett of the sweeping Woodbine layout. “He is getting better as he goes along and he is coming into the race in good order.”
Following a lengthy inquiry into the finish of the 12-furlong Northern Dancer, Marsh Side, who led the field into the homestretch, was disqualified from his half-length win by Ontario Racing Commission stewards. They determined that Marsh Side drifted in under right-handed urging from Javier Castellano in deep stretch, impeding original third-place finisher Quijano and favored Champs Elysees, who was forced to take up abruptly while rallying at the rail under Garrett Gomez and came home fourth. The decision gave the victory to Just as Well, who was not involved in the fracas but rallied on the outside to place second.
All four are back to sort it out in the Canadian International. Juddmonte's Champs Elysees, trained by Bobby Frankel, is 4-1 on the morning line. Just as Well, owned and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, and the German-bred Quijano, are each listed at 6-1.
Also in the field is grade II winner Spice Route (8-1) from the Roger Attfield barn, and a pair of English invaders, Allied Powers (15-1) and Buccellati (10-1).
Spice Route, a 5-year-old gelded son of King's Best, was 38-1 in last year's race and will likely be a price again, even though the British-bred won the Tropical Turf Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Calder last December and the Elkhorn at Keeneland in April (gr. IIT). He has not raced since finishing fifth in Woodbine's Nijinsky (Can-IIT) over a soft turf July 26.
"I swore that I wouldn't run him there and I talked myself into it," Attfield admitted. "And it got him very, very, body sore. He needed a lot of rest after that. It was totally my fault. I just messed him up."
Buccellati could give Andrew Balding a second Canadian International win after the English trainer won it six years ago with Phoenix Reach.
"Phoenix Reach won the race for us and we've had luck in Woodbine with other horses, too. It's been a happy hunting ground for us," he said.
Balding believes Buccellati, a hard-knocking 5-year-old son of Soviet Star who has a couple of grade III wins to his credit, is a prominent contender.
"Actually, I believe he is a lively candidate to win the race," said Balding. "He’s done nothing but mature with age. We planned an autumn campaign for him and I believe this race is an ideal spot for him."
Buccellati, who adds blinkers, comes into the Pattison off a fourth-place effort in the Prix Foy (Fr-II) at Longchamp on Sept. 13. He wil be ridden by William Buick.
$2 Million Pattison Canadian International (Can-IT), Race 10, 5:40 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Champs Elysees (GB), G K Gomez, 126, R J Frankel
2. Allied Powers (IRE), J Crowley, 126, M L Bell
3. Quijano (GER), A Starke, 126, P Schiergen
4. Just as Well (KY), J R Leparoux, 126, J E Sheppard
5. Marsh Side (KY), J Castellano, 126, N D Drysdale
6. Buccellati (GB), W T Buick, 126, A Balding
7. Jukebox Jury (IRE), R L Ffrench, 119, M S Johnston
8. Spice Route (GB), J McAleney, 126, R L Attfield
Blinkers On: Buccellati (GB)