Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome back to the $600,000, Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine!
The prestigious 1 1/2-mile turf prize wasn’t held in 2020 due to COVID-19, but you can’t keep a good race down. The Canadian International will return to the fray on Saturday with a strong eight-horse field in the mix.
As its name implies, the Canadian International aims to be global in scope, and recent history suggests betting foreign invaders is by far the best approach. Nine of the last 10 Canadian International winners were based outside of North America, including two-time Canadian International victor #3 Desert Encounter, who is back seeking a three-peat on Saturday.
A 9-year-old gelding with 46 starts under his belt, Desert Encounter unleashed powerful late rallies to win the 2018 and 2019 Canadian Internationals in comfortable fashion. His affinity for the Woodbine turf course is appealing as is his proven ability to handle the trip to North America.
But Desert Encounter is 0-for-5 this season and arrives at Woodbine off a runner-up effort in the August Stakes against easier competition at Royal Windsor, one of England’s smaller racecourses. This stands in contrast to 2019 when Desert Encounter entered the Canadian International off three straight Group 3 stakes wins in Europe. Actually, Desert Encounter has gone 0-for-15 since winning the 2019 Canadian International, so it’s possible he’s lost a step or two in recent seasons.
That’s why we’re going to place our faith in the other European raider, #2 Walton Street. Conditioned by Charlie Appleby — who has compiled a stellar 4-for-6 record at Woodbine since 2016 — Walton Street was a force to reckon with during the winter in Dubai. After winning a handicap and the Group 2 Dubai City of Gold at 1 1/2 miles, Walton Street stepped up in class for the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic Presented by Longines. Facing elite international competition, Walton Street ran gamely to finish fourth, beaten just 3 1/2 lengths behind multiple Group 1 winners Mishriff, Chrono Genesis, and Loves Only You.
Walton Street recently returned from a break to finish third in the Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Berlin in Germany, a performance flattered when runner-up Torquator Tasso came back to win the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden. With this prep effort under his belt, Walton Street should be poised for a peak effort in the Canadian International. It’s also encouraging to note that internationally acclaimed jockey Frankie Dettori, a three-time winner of the Canadian International, is making the trip to ride Walton Street.
With all these positives in his corner, Walton Street looms as a formidable contender. But if we want to do more than bet the favorite to win, we’ll have to decipher exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta, and figuring out which runners will vie for second and third place is easier said than done.
One logical candidate is #1 Corelli, a former European campaigner who ran third in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes in 2020 at Monmouth Park. The son of turf star Point of Entry ran his best race yet when rallying to victory in the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes racing 1 1/4 miles at Woodbine last month and figures to save some ground while breaking from the rail on Saturday.
The improving #4 Bluegrass Parkway can’t be counted out either. The son of Quality Road has won two of his four starts since transferring to the care of trainer Mike Maker, most recently rallying to a half-length score in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Turf Cup Stakes at Ellis Park. If he handles stretching out to 1 1/2 miles, he can factor at a fair price.
Speaking of which, the distance of the Canadian International shouldn’t be an obstacle for #6 Fantasioso. Runner-up in the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup racing two miles during the spring, Fantasioso has hit the board in a trio of long-distance graded stakes this season and also has placed against Group 1 company in his native Argentina.
So how do we take these opinions and turn them into a viable betting strategy? That depends on how much you wish to wager. If you want to play on a small budget, a win bet on Walton Street and a small exacta play with Desert Encounter and Corelli might be the way to go. On the other hand, bolder bettors with bigger budgets can take aim at a larger payday by playing Walton Street on top of deep trifecta tickets.
Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget
$8 to win on #2 Walton Street
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 9th race, $8 to win on 2
$1 exacta: 2 with 1,3
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 9th race, $1 exacta 2 with 1,3
Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget
$14 to win on #2 Walton Street
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 9th race, $14 to win on 2
$1 trifecta: 2 with 1,3 with 1,3,4,6,8 ($8)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 9th race, $1 trifecta 2 with 1,3 with 1,3,4,6,8
$1 trifecta: 2 with 1,3,4,6,8 with 1,3 ($8)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, 9th race, $1 trifecta 2 with 1,3,4,6,8 with 1,3
Good luck, and enjoy the race!