Sam-Son Farm's million-dollar star Strut the Stage is out of Sunday's $1.5-million Canadian International (Can-I) at Woodbine with a possible back problem, trainer Mark Frostad said Wednesday. Team Sam-Son will send out two other aces, Shoal Water and Portcullis, in Woodbine's annual turf classic."Strut the Stage didn't run his race last time out (fourth in the Sky Classic Stakes on Sept. 28)," said Frostad of his multiple stakes winner with $1,265,923 in career earnings. "We suspect he could have a back problem."Instead, Canada's Top Male Turf Horse in 2002, Portcullis, and up-and-coming talent Shoal Water, take on some of the world's top grass talents."He's a really nice three-year-old and we'll see if he belongs against these ones," said Frostad of Shoal Water, a lifetime winner of three races (seven top-three finishes) from nine starts.Todd Kabel, Woodbine's leading rider (134 wins through Oct. 13) will be aboard Shoal Water. The veteran rider has been aboard the son of Smart Strike four times, winning twice and never finishing worse than third.Shoal Water's biggest win to date came in the Saranac Handicap (gr. III) at Saratoga on Sept. 1, a sensational 2 1/4-length score as the favorite in the 1 3/16-mile event. Portcullis, a seven-time winner from 16 starts, has $651,899 in earnings, including three consecutive stakes victories (Charley Barley, Toronto Cup and Breeders' Stakes) in 2002.
Slade Callaghan, regular rider of Portcullis, will be looking to improve off their seventh-place finish in last year's International. "When he's on his game, he's definitely a tough one."Sam-Son captured won the 1991 International with Sky Classic and the 1997 edition with Chief Bearhart.Probable for the Pattison Canadian International: Art Variety, Ballingarry, Bowman Mill, Brian Boru, Gruntled, Lunar Sovereign, Macaw, Phoenix Reach, Portcullis, Sabiango, Shoal Water.