October 14, 2010

International Day Gives N. America a Chance to Defend Home Turf

The match-up is set ... It’s North America versus Europe Saturday at Woodbine. Three grade 1 turf races represent the last major chance to impress before the Breeders’ Cup.  The big day also offers another turf gauge between the respective talents of grass runners on both sides of the big pond. 

The day’s biggest prize is the $2 million Canadian International over a mile and a half on Woodbine’s excellent turf course. Team Europe is represented with a four strong contingent, in Redwood, Chinchon, Joshua Tree, and Mores Wells. While the home side counters with Marsh Side, Al Khali, Fifty Proof, Simmard, and Memorial Maniac.   Redwood and Chinchon have already raided our side of the Atlantic successfully and deserve great respect, but there is one colt in the field who I feel is on the verge of something special.  His name is Al Khali, and if I am right, he is ready to make a lot of noise, not only Saturday, but also three weeks later in the Breeders' Cup Turf.  His Bowling Green performance was the tip-off, now let's see what the son of Medaglia D'oro can do with clear sailing.

For the distaff turfers, the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes is a race dominated by the girls from across the pond. Shalanaya, Lahaleeb, Silver Grey, Reggane, Contredanse, Gallic Star, Pachattack, Akarlina form the formidable eight-prong cast of invaders. Only trainer Roger Attfield stands alone to defend the honor of North America with his pair of Mekong Melody and Miss Keller.  With 80% of the field belonging to the Europeans, I would have to be crazy to pick against them, right?  Crazy like a fox!  Miss Keller has quickly become one of my favorite turf horses.  I always knew the four-year-old daughter of Montjeu was a consistent performer on the lawn, but with her recent performances, I am ready to call her one of the top turf fillies out there.  Come Saturday, she will be a grade 1 winner.

In the $500,000 Nearctic Stakes, North America has the advantage with nine of the twelve entries representing the home team. The locals have Fatal Bullet, Field Commission, Grand Adventure, Bridgetown, Bogue Chitto, Towzee, Signature Red, Sneaking Uponyou, and Woodbourne. The Euros counter with Amico Fritz, Serious Attitude, and Balthazaar's Gift.  My pick?  You guessed it, I am all over the home side once again.  This is the time of year when good three-year-olds can step up and defeat their elders.  That is exactly what I will be looking for in this grade 1 sprint, with the talented and lightly raced youngster Bridgetown getting the job done and proving he belongs with the top turf sprinters in the world as he runs down the speedy Fatal Bullet in the late stages.

Call me a homer, but those are my picks, and I’m sticking with them.


bedfont said...

I have no idea how the UK bookies have a euro sprinter and especially not Baltazar's Gift as joint fav with Bridgetown.

I was a huge fan of Redwood but he likes top of the ground and this must be a better field at worse odds than the Northern Dancer.

Brian Zipse said...

I agree with everything you just said, Jonathan. Which, of course, is a little scary. ;-) And yes, Al Khali is better than anything in the Northern Dancer.

danmunn said...

You know what? Scary as it is i'm a Euro and I'm astonished that Balthazar's Gift is favourite! Bridgetown is real speedy....I like Bridgetown a lot. Serious Attitude is our main challenger is she hits her Cheveley Park Stakes form from her 2yo days - even her Golden Jubilee run would put her well in there at the finish.

As for the Canadian Int, I have to play Joshua Tree. He's still improving and he's got a massive race in him believe me.

Have to 100% agree with Miss Keller. She's very much the one to beat in the EP Taylor

Brian Zipse said...

Joshua Tree is very interesting, and will be one that I include if the odds are similar to the morning line.

knriley said...


Thanks so much for posting on the Canadian International. I think people take for granted the quality of races on this day (and every day) at Woodbine, but each year that passes with another big name winner gets the word out more and more: Woodbine offers an excellent product (competitive races with great purses) at a top class facility for both horses and people. It shows when top quality outfits return year after year.

Brian Zipse said...

Racing at Woodbine is top class Kelsey, wish I could visit more often. Today is one of my favorite turf days of the year!