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2002 Canadian International winner Ballingarry is back to try and become the fifth two-time winner of the race.
Dateline: 10/17/03


On Thursday the post positions were drawn for the $1.5 million Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine in Toronto. A field of 11 will go to the post on Sunday, and will run 1 1/2 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course aiming for the lion's share of the $1.5 million purse. In recent years the race was run in late September or early October, but this year it was moved back to its traditional late October date despite clashing with the Breeders' Cup. As a result, it is unlikely any of the horses entered on Sunday will go on to Santa Anita, but a competitive field has assembled nonetheless. With the wet weather expected all week, soft going is expected which may favor the Europeans.

Ballingarry is back to defend his title from post position 11, bearing the colors of the Chicago-based Port Trust who purchased him from Coolmore after his win in last year's International, as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line. Mike Smith will be in to ride Ballingarry for trainer Laura de Seroux. Assistant trainer Brian Lynch said, "He's a true stayer. If the race is too slow, you need to make a race of it from the quarter-mile home. That's what Mick Kinane (Ballingarry's jockey in last year's International) did with him last year. Even though you prefer to come from behind with him, you need to make that run and just go. Post 11 gives us a chance to drop in and look at what's going on in the race."

John Ferguson Jr., general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League, was on hand as the honorary drawmaster when the post positions were drawn on Thursday.
Brian Boru, the 2-1 morning line favourite, drew post four for trainer Aidan O'Brien and jockey Jamie Spencer. Most recently, he won the Group One 1 13/16 mile Seabiscuit St. Leger Stakes at Doncaster on September 13. Earlier this year, the three-year-old fared well against two of the best turf horses in the world: Dalakhani, winner of the recent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the equally-ranked Alamshar, when he finished fourth in the Irish Derby at The Curragh in June. "Brian Boru is in tip top form. He's very good, no problems at all," said T.J. Comerford, O'Brien's assistant. "The shipping was the least of the problems. He's had two days at the track, he loves it. He's in good form. The race is kind of wide open. Aidan likes this horse a lot. He's in good form. He's here in one piece. He's ready to run."

In from New York is the powerful Darley Stable's Man O'War Stakes winner Lunar Sovereign, who drew post 8 as the 9-2 third choice. His disappointing fifth in the Turf Classic took him off the Breeders' Cup trail and instead to Woodbine. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said, "The Man O' War was obviously a great run. He ran very well. We came back in the Turf Classic and we were quite confident he would run well again, but he displaced the palate." Richard Migliore gets the call on Sunday. Also in from New York is Macaw, from the now-famous barn of Barclay Tagg. Since coming over from Europe, he was third in the Bowling Green and second in the Sword Dancer. Regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan will be aboard.

As expected, perennial local leader Sam-Som Farms is in here, but their stable star Strut the Stage won't be going. Instead they will send out his stablemates Portcullis, winner of last year's Sovereign Award as champion turf horse, and Shoal Water, winner of the Saranac at Saratoga in August

Michael Dickinson will be sending out Sky Classic Stakes winner Bowman Mill for owner John Chandler, and he gets Brice Blanc in from California. High-flying globetrotter Frankie Dettori is back, but won't be in the familiar Godolphin blue silks for the International. He will be aboard Gruntled, from the barn of John Hammond and owned by Ecurie Chalhoub.

Inish Glora, winner of the Canadian Stakes last out, will take a step up in class in the E.P. Taylor Stakes.

On the undercard is the $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, a Grade 1 event at 1 1/4 miles on turf for the older fillies and mares. Inish Glora, who captured the Canadian Stakes on the Atto Mile undercard, stretches out an extra furlong going for two in a row. She and rider Todd Kabel take on top locals such as Byzantine and Diadella, and well-travelled distaffers as Volga, Walzerkoenigin, and Hi Dubai. Godolphin Stable's Hi Dubai is trained by Saeed bin Suroor and will have regular rider Frankie Dettori aboard.

New this year is a special bonus for the trainer earning the most points between the Canadian International and the E.P. Taylor Stakes. Points are assigned for first through fifth place in each race. The trainer with the most points between the two races gets a $50,000 bonus, and to win the bonus a trainer must participate in both races. Trainers John Hammond, Mark Frostad, and Kiaran McLaughlin are in contention for the bonus if their charges in both races start.

Post positions were drawn Thursday and here is this year's field for the Canadian International:

HorseWeightTrainerJockey M/L 
 1 Sabiango126 Andreas WohlerEduardo Pedroza8-1
 2 Gruntled126 John HammondFrankie Dettori20-1
 3 Macaw126 Barclay TaggShaun Bridgmohan20-1
 4 Brian Boru119 Aidan O'BrienJamie Spencer2-1
 5 Phoenix Reach119 Andrew BaldingMartin Dwyer6-1
 6 Art Variety126 Ken McPeekEdgar Prado20-1
 7 Portcullis126 Mark FrostadSlade Callaghan30-1
 8 Lunar Sovereign126 Kiaran McLaughlinRichard Migliore9-2
 9 Shoal Water119 Mark FrostadTodd Kabel30-1
10 Bowman Mill126 Michael DickinsonBrice Blanc12-1
11 Ballingarry126 Laura de SerouxMike Smith4-1

Please check back on Sunday evening for photos, results, and comments on the race.

Canadian International and Canadian racing links:

All photos ©2003 Cindy Pierson Dulay.

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