On Saturday, a short field of just 6 older horses will go to post in the 82nd running of the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International, a 1 1/2 mile trip around Woodbine's E.P. Taylor Turf Course for a guaranteed purse of $800,000. Final entries were taken and post positions were drawn at a special lunch event held on Wednesday afternoon. Retired Toronto Maple Leafs right winger Carlo Colaiacovo was on hand to assist racing secretary Scott Lane and track announcer Robert Geller with the proceedings.
Drawing the posts with racing secretary Scott Lane, drawmaster Carlo Colaiacovo, and track announcer Robert Geller.
The native of Toronto, who grew up near Woodbine Racetrack, played junior hockey with the Erie Otters before he was drafted in the 1st round, 17th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2001 Entry Draft and scored his first NHL goal in November 2005. He would later play for St. Louis, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Buffalo before finishing his playing career with Adler Mannheim in the German hockey league. In the NHL he played in a total of 470 games scoring 34 goals wth 123 assists and 231 penalty minutes. Since retiring from play, he moved into broadcasting, co-hosting the "First Up with Landsberg and Colaiacovo" morning show on TSN 1050 sports radio in Toronto with long-time TSN personality Michael Landsberg. On stage he talked about being a fan of both his hometown Leafs and the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, and the challenges of his 2-year-old son Leo diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Colaiacovo is involved in fundraising for pediatric cancer research, and his son enjoys seeing the horses at Woodbine.
Jonathan Zammit, Woodbine's VP of Thoroughbred Racing Operations briefly touched on the track's commitment to turf racing, now that the inner turf course has been in use since Queen's Plate weekend. Unlike past draws this season, no mention was made of the OLG (or gaming in general), the redevelopment currently underway in the parking lot, or track safety.
Desert Enccounter winning the 2018 Canadian International
Ziyad is the even-money morning line favorite and drew the rail. He is making his North American debut off a win in the Grand Prix de Deauville (G2) after finishing secodn in the Grand Prix de Chantilly (G2) and the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud (G1). Maxime Guyon gets the call for trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias. In to challenge him include defending champion Desert Encounter as the 2-1 second choice from post 4. He comes here off a 3 race win streak all in Group 3 company, the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood, the Winter Hill Stakes at Windsor, and the Legacy Cup at Newbury. Andrea Atzeni, who last rode him in the 2018 Canadian International, gets the call for trainer David Simcock. The 6-1 third choice is German invader Alounak from post 5. He won the Preis Der Sparkassen Finanzgruppe (G3) at Baden-Baden after finishing 5th in the Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1) at Hoppegarten. Regular rider Clement Lecoeuvre gets the call for trainer Waldemar Hickst. It is worth noting that top local turf horse Tiz a Slam, who had been expected to run, did not make final entry.
Sheikha Reika winning the 2018 E.P. Taylor Stakes.
The distaff counterpart to the International is the $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1), for older fillies and mares going 1 1/4 miles on the turf and is carded as race 8 at 5:05pm, immediately before the International. Graham Motion sends out two, Si Que Es Buena in post 4 with jockey Chris Landeros, and Secret Message from the outside post 10 with Trevor McCarthy in the irons. Si Que Es Buena comes here off an 8 month layoff, winning the La Prevoyante (G3) at Gulfstream in January. Secret Message won the Nassau (G2) at Woodbine but disappointed in 4th in the Diana (G1) and then 8th in the Ballston Spa (G2). Trainer Joseph O'Brien sends over Red Tea, winner of the Kilboy Estate (G2) at the Curragh but 3rd in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1) last out at Deauville. New rider Eurico Rosa da Silva gets the call from post 2.
Hembree winning the 2018 Nearctic Stakes
Kicking off the stakes trio is the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (G2) featuring a field of 9 older horses sprinting 6 furlongs on the turf, carded as Race 7 going to post at 4:30pm ET. Trainer Mark Casse has 2 entered, Lookin to Strike from post 2 with Jerome Lermyte riding, and Blind Ambition with Eurico Rosa da Silva breaking from the 6 hole. Lookin to Strike is winless this year and was a disappointing 9th in the Presque Isle Mile last out, while Blind Ambition won an allowance at Woodbine in his first start after switching from Todd Pletcher's barn to Casse.
The full list of the entries for the day, including the International, the E.P. Taylor Stakes, and the Nearctic Stakes, are available from Equibase. Free past performances are available online from BRISnet here: Canadian International (scroll down to The Contenders and click on the horse names) E.P. Taylor Stakes (search for Secret Message) Nearctic Stakes (search for Blind Ambition)
Here are the entries for the 2019 Pattison Canadian International (G1). All horses will carry 126 pounds. The International goes off at 5:40pm ET as the 9th race on Sunday, and will be shown live on TSN4 in Canada from 5:00-6:00pm. The full card at Woodbine will be shown on both HPItv in Canada and TVG in the United States, as well as at simulcast sites across North America, and online via free live streaming.