The $800,000, Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes on Oct. 15 has long been a target for talented horses from Europe. Held at 1 ½ miles on the huge turf course at Woodbine, the race is a perfect fit for horses accustomed to racing on similarly large racecourses in other parts of the world. Since 2000, 13 of the 17 winners of the Canadian International (including each of the last seven) were based overseas, and two other winners started their careers outside of North America.
For this reason, I’m going to take a shot with Erupt (#9). The son of Dubawi won the Canadian International last year after settling a couple lengths behind a very slow pace, and while he hasn’t won since then, there are reasons to believe he’ll rebound on Sunday. He’s only run three times this year, with his first effort —a close fourth in the Group 1 Prix Ganay Stakes behind future Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Cloth of Stars — being the best. Erupt was then soundly beaten in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, but reportedly didn’t handle the soft turf that day, and subsequently was sent to the U.S. in search of more suitable conditions.
On Aug. 26, he finished fifth against a deep field in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga, moving into contention early in the homestretch before tiring a bit to finish less than four lengths behind the winner.
Erupt has remained in the U.S. since that race and is now being trained by Graham Motion, one of the most successful turf trainers in the country. The return to the large turf course at Woodbine could trigger an improved performance, and Erupt will also be racing on Lasix (furosemide) for the first time while facing an easier field than the one he met at Saratoga. Best of all, he’s got enough speed to stay close to the lead in a race that figures to unfold at a slow pace, which could give him a major tactical advantage. I think he’s poised to score a repeat victory in the Canadian International.
Johnny Bear (#5) and Messi (#8), who finished first and third in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine last month, are other logical contenders, along with Oscar Nominated (#1), who has kept good company all year and recently won the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs in determined fashion. Idaho (#4) figures to draw significant wagering support since he’s trained by Ireland’s leading trainer Aidan O’Brien and boasts some very nice races on his record, but his two starts in the U.S. — a fifth in last year’s Canadian International and a sixth in this year’s Sword Dancer —have not been as sharp, and I’ll let him beat me in this spot.
Here’s how I would play the race:
Wagering strategy on a $10 Budget
$4 to win on #9 Erupt ($4)
$1 exacta: 9 with 1,5,8 ($3)
$1 exacta: 1,5,8 with 9 ($3)
Wagering strategy on a $25 Budget
$7 to win on #9 Erupt ($7)
$2 exacta: 9 with 1,5,8 ($6)
$2 exacta: 1,5,8 with 9 ($6)
$0.50 trifecta: 9 with 1,5,8 with 1,4,5,8,10 ($6)
Good luck, and enjoy the race!