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Racing expert Lou Monaco analyzes the Grade 1 Canadian International from Woodbine

The 82nd edition of the $800,000 Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes for 3-year-olds and up over 1 ½ miles on the turf highlights Saturday’s 12-race card at Woodbine in Toronto, Ontario.

The field of six is slated as race 9 and has an approximate post time of 5:42 p.m. ET.

#4, Desert Encounter (IRE), Andrea Atzeni, 2-1

The defending champ returns on the heels of a three-race win streak in England and having posted in-the-money finishes in five of her last seven races. Last year, she won in this spot by a length over Thundering Blue with Andrea Atzeni aboard. For all of that success, she is rewarded with the second-choice morning line for today’s race behind even-money ML favorite British invader Ziyad (GB). Atzeni returns to the saddle and looks to make Desert Encounter the first horse since Joshua Tree in 2012-13 to win back-to-back editions. It’s her turf, her crown and she will leave exactly as she came in as a champion. The pick.

#1, Ziyad (GB), Maxime Guyon, 1-1

The morning-line favorite will be making her 17th career start (5-6-2) and will be making her first on this side of the pond. She is coming off a win in the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville on Aug. 25, her first since Aug. 5, 2018.  Since that start, she has finished in the money in six of her last eight starts (1-4-1). A wealth of talent, but who knows what she will be like in untested waters in this spot. We shall see. Prefer the defending champ. Runner-up.

#3, Nessy, Chris Landeros, 8-1

 Nessy has won one race a year for the past four years, as she will be making her 33rd career start today. In six starts this year, she is 1-1-1 and is coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes here on Sept. 14. I like the fact that she used that as a tune-up for today’s race as Chris Landeros gets the mount for trainer Ian Wilkes. I think she has a decent shot in this spot to finish in the money. Contender.

#5, Alounak (FR), Clement Lecoeuvre, 6-1

 Alounak (FR) is 1-1-0 in seven starts this year ans is coming off a Group 3 win in the Preis der Sparkassen Finanzgruppe at Baden Baden in Germany on Aug. 24, her first in-the-money finish since April. This is also her first start on this side of the world for trainer Waldemar Hickst. In the mix.

PICKS: 4-1-3-5


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