Foreign Invaders Take Aim on Canadian International


Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire

By Emily Shields for TVG

The $800,000 Canadian International (G1), which takes place Saturday at Woodbine, has become a world class event for international travelers. Some of the entrants will go on to Hong Kong or Japan, and some could head to the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Santa Anita November 2.

Four of the six runners are foreign invaders. All eyes will be on French runner Ziyad (GB), who is coming off a win in the group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville in August. The son of Rock of Gibraltar (Ire) was a stakes winner last year as well, and has been first or second 11 times in 16 starts. Carlos Laffon-Parias trains Ziyad, who has run over this mile and a half distance ten times already, with three wins.

Pivoine (Ire) is in the care of trainer Andrew Balding, a longtime supporter of Woodbine. The son of Redoute’s Choice (Aus) was second behind International rival Desert Encounter in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup (G3) at Newmarket on September 21. He has run against some of the best of his generation, including Crystal Ocean twice, with six wins from 22 starts.

Desert Encounter (Ire) is the defending champion. He was an 8-1 surprise last year when he defeated Thundering Blue and Focus Group, then had some time off before returning at Meydan to run third in a grade 2 behind top class Old Persian. Since then, Desert Encounter has found his best stride, taking three consecutive group 3 events in England before shipping for this race. David Simcock trains.

Alounak (Fr) rounds out the international shippers. The Waldemar Hickst trainee is coming off a group 3 win at Baden-Baden in Germany, which was over ten furlongs. He is a three-time stakes winner, and was fifth in a group 1 two starts back. The son of Camelot (GB) hasn’t run since August 24 but has been galloping well at Woodbine.

Trainer Ian Wilkes is returning Nessy to Woodbine, where the gelded son of Flower Alley ran second behind Old Persian in the Northern Dancer (G1) last month. An allowance winner at Keeneland in April, Nessy has been training over that track since the Northern Dancer run. He was a grade 3 winner at Santa Anita last year, and overall has finished top three in 19 of 32 starts.

Local star Pumpkin Rumble rounds out the field. Kevin Attard trains the eight-year-old son of English Channel, who last year took the Valedictory (G3) at the end of the meet. He returned in June to run third in a pair of graded stakes here before adding the Alphabet Soup at Parx on the grass last out. Woodbine’s leading rider Eurico Rosa Da Silva will be back aboard for this. Pumpkin Rumble, who is 10 for 45 lifetime, has never won in seven tries at the distance.

While waiting for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, watch all the weekend stakes action from Woodbine live on TVG.

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