A homebred who races for the Niarchos family's Flaxman Holdings, Erupt was one of four European invaders in 2016 but came in under the radar for trainer Francis-Henri Graffard. For Sunday's renewal, Erupt is now in the care of trainer Graham Motion and is the 7-2 second choice on the morning line. Other back-to-back winners of the Canadian International are Shepperton (1942-43), George Royal (1965-66), and Joshua Tree (2012-13).
Erupt captured the 2015 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (G1) over 1 1/2 miles during a stretch when he went undefeated in four starts to begin his career as a 3-year-old. The Irish-bred then went winless in his next seven outings in 2015 and 2016 before registering his second top-level victory in the Canadian International.
This year Erupt finished fourth in his seasonal debut, the group 1 Prix Ganay, before he finished ninth in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud (G1). Most recently Erupt came in fifth in the Aug. 26 Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course. Following that race, he moved to Motion's base at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. Motion also has Gestut Brummerhof's homebred Messi, who ran third in Woodbine's Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1T) last time out Sept. 16, entered in the Canadian International.
A familiar rival will also challenge Erupt in the Aiden O'Brien-trained Idaho. The Galileo (IRE) colt finished fifth in last year's Canadian International and sixth in this year's Sword Dancer, and has been installed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite Sunday in the $800,000 race.
Idaho is a two-time group 2 winner, with his most recent win coming in the June 24 Hardwicke Stakes (G2) at Royal Ascot. His best result in four other starts this season, all at the 1 1/2-mile distance, was a third in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot July 29.The 4-year-old colt finished sixth as the favorite in the Sword Dancer and eighth after setting the pace in the Oct. 1 Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). O'Brien, who trains Idaho for Coolmore partners, will seek his second Canadian International win, while Idaho's jockey, Ryan Moore has three to his credit.
European shippers have won the last seven editions of the Canadian International. Chemical Charge is the other European tasked with extending that streak. Based in England with trainer Ralph Beckett, Chemical Charge showed much promise as a juvenile in 2014, but a knee injury in his second start kept him on the shelf for all of 2015.
Chemical Charge has recorded three victories this year and finished third in the Hardwicke.
"He's fine. He's got his mojo back," said traveling head lass Lindsey Metcalfe, who took a flight from Amstersdam very early Tuesday morning with Chemical Charge.
Looking to hold the fort for the home team will be Johnny Bear. The English Channel gelding trained by Ashlee Brnjas edged odds-on favorite Hawkbill in the Northern Dancer a Woodbine last time out at odds of 9-1.
"We sent him for the farm for 10 days after that race, to gain some weight and be sure his blood was right," Brnjas said. "We had two vets go over him, head to toe. He's been bouncing around the barn since he got back."
Flamboyant, based in California with trainer Patrick Gallagher, has been knocking on the door there recently and is coming in off a close third-place finish in the Del Mar Handicap presented by The Japan Racing Association (G2T) Aug. 19.
Trainer Mike Maker has a pair for the Canadian International in Oscar Nominated and Enterprising, the respective first and ninth-place finishers last time out in the Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup (G3T) at Kentucky Downs.
Pattison Canadian International (G1T)
|PP||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Morning Line Odds|
|1||Oscar Nominated||Michael Maker||Julien Leparoux||8-1|
|2||Flamboyant||Patrick Gallagher||Joel Rosario||6-1|
|3||Enterprising||Michael Maker||Rafael Hernandez||20-1|
|4||Idaho||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore||5-2|
|5||Johnny Bear||Ashlee Brnjas||Luis Contreras||12-1|
|6||Postulation||Edward Graham||Jorge A. Vargas Jr.||12-1|
|7||Bullards Alley||Tim Glyshaw||Eurico Rosa da Silva||20-1|
|8||Messi||H. Graham Motion||Jose Ortiz||8-1|
|9||Erupt||H. Graham Motion||Junior Alvarado||7-2|
|10||Chemical Charge||Ralph Beckett||Oisin Murphy||5-1|