TVG's Emily Shields joins us to preview the top quality racing from Woodbine this weekend ..
Woodbine Racetrack outside Toronto has three major race days during their lengthy eight-month long meeting. The final major day of the 2019 season is Saturday, October 12, with three major races with Breeders’ Cup implications, topped by the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International (G1).
Defending champion Desert Encounter has won three group 3 stakes races in a row in England, and was third in a major race in Dubai earlier this year. He was an 8-1 surprise in last year’s International, defeating classy horses from all over the globe. He will not be favored this year, as that honor goes to Ziyad on the rail. The four-year-old from France was a group 2 winner over there in August, and has been first or second in 11 of 16 lifetime starts.
Other international shippers include Pivoine, from England, and Alounak, from Germany. The latter is coming off a victory there over ten furlongs, while this race is over twelve.
The sister race to the International is the $600,000 E.P. Taylor (G1) for older fillies and mares. It drew a field of 10, with local hopefuls vying to overthrow the international raiders. Starship Jubilee is 7-2 on the morning line despite winning the local prep for this race, the Canadian (G2), on September 14. She has won five of 12 over the turf course here, and is 13 for 30 lifetime.
Holy Helena is 10-1 on the morning line, and possible rain could hamper her chances, but she is a grade 2 winner over the course and defeated males in the Queen’s Plate here back in 2017. This is the likely swan song for the popular runner, who has earned $1.3 million to date.
American trainer Graham Motion is bringing the Argentinian mare Si Que Es Buena up, as well as Secret Message, who breaks from the outside stall. The best of the international shippers could be Irish group 2 winner Red Tea, trainer by Joseph O’Brien.
The stakes action kicks off in race seven with the $250,000 Nearctic (G2) over six furlongs. Local favorite Yorkton won the Bold Venture (G3), a prep for this, for the second year in a row last out. Patrick Husbands will ride the quick son of Speightstown, who has won seven of 24 starts. English sprinter Woody Creek ships in here to run against boys; the three-year-old filly has won twice and not since May. Top Woodbine trainer Mark Casse brings in the five-year-old Blind Ambition, a stakes winner at Belmont Park last year, who won a local allowance race here September 6 in good time. He figures to sit right off the pace and fire in the lane.
With most of the major horses in the United States awaiting the Breeders’ Cup in three weeks, the races at Woodbine this weekend take center stage.