A compact but talented field of six will run 1 ½ miles on the Woodbine turf course in Saturday’s $800,000 Canadian International S. (Can-G1). The co-feature is one of three major graded stakes events during an excellent day of racing north of the border.
The pace of the race is tricky to gauge but I expect import Pivoine (10-1), who adds blinkers, to show the way early. The five-year-old has been prominent on various occasions overseas and the equipment change could have him geared up from the start on Saturday.
Pumpkin Rumble (15-1) often shows very good tactical speed and figures to track the early pace. The remaining quartet will be patiently ridden during the opening stages.
Wagers for the Canadian International Stakes
$40 Straight Exacta: 1-2 = $40
Canadian International Contenders (in post order):
#1 ZIYAD (1-1) — Rising star has posted three very good efforts in succession in his native France, capped by a score in the Grand Prix de Deauville (Fr-G2) most recently. Carlos Laffon-Parias trainee draws inside for his North American bow and has never been better in advance of this assignment. Maxime Guyon will guide the one to beat.
#2 PIVOINE (10-1) — Contender and presumptive pacesetter was runner-up at Newbury last time out and will be equipped with blinkers for this event. Andrew Balding-trained son of Redoute’s Choice could get brave if he clears the field early on under Robert Hornby.
#3 NESSY (8-1) — Ian Wilkes charge was a smart runner-up in the Northern Dancer S. (Can-G1) last time out in the local prep for this contest. Six-year-old son of Flower Alley has never achieved success at the top level, but his recent run shows he thrives on the Woodbine turf. Chris Landeros will pilot the late runner.
#4 DESERT ENCOUNTER (2-1) — Defending champ is proven on the local lawn and comes in riding a three-race win streak for David Simcock. Seven-year-old gelding has a potent turn of foot and will be the one to hold off late with his top showing. The soon-to-be millionaire will have Andrea Atzeni in the controls.
#5 ALOUNAK (6-1) — German-based contender was victorious in a Group 3 test at Baden Baden prior to shipping into Canada for the International. Four-year-old son of Camelot gets Lasix for his North American debut, and it is a positive sign to see jockey Clement Lecoeuvre accompany the colt from overseas.
#6 PUMPKIN RUMBLE (15-1) — Locally based gelding had a smart win at Parx at 1 1/16 miles in preparation. Kevin Attard charge has won or placed in eight of 10 assignments on the Woodbine green and has a bit of a tactical edge over many of his foes. Top local jockey Eurico da Silva will be in the stirrups.