Seeking Albert, a private purchase back in May for trainer Mike DePaulo and owner Robert Marzilli, will continue his streak of turf stamina tests in the Grade 1 $800,000 Pattison Canadian International, which is slated for Sunday, October 15.
“This will be his fourth straight race going a mile and a half so he certainly should be fit enough,” grinned DePaulo.
DePaulo originally tabbed the striking son of Einstein for a different Canadian classic event.
“We were looking for a Queen’s Plate horse and this was one of the few Canadian-breds running around that we could buy fairly reasonably,” recalled DePaulo.
The three-year-old was initially campaigned in Texas by trainer Nathan Hatcher, graduating in an off-the-turf route at Houston on February 21. Seeking Albert posted back-to-back 70 Beyer figures at Lone Star Park on the turf before attracting the interest of DePaulo.
A well related individual, Seeking Albert’s second dam is the multiple Group 1 winner Perfect Sting, who won the 2000 edition of the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf over 1 3/8-miles over the Churchill Downs green.
“The second dam is very strong,” agreed DePaulo. “With his pedigree, we thought he’d like grass and we were hoping that would transfer to Tapeta. Of course, he’d never run on it.”
A first effort on the Tapeta didn’t pan out as Seeking Albert finished a flat seventh.
“When you get a horse from Texas there’s a few restrictions and we had to jump through some hoops to get him here,” explained DePaulo. “There’s special blood tests to apply for and he ended up going from Texas to Kentucky and then we were hung up for a few weeks at Presque Isle. When we got him here, he might have been a little knocked out initially.”
However, a move to turf paid immediate dividends as Seeking Albert, trying 1 1/2-miles for the first time, demonstrated his affinity for the E.P. Taylor Turf Course with a driving 1 1/2-length score that earned a 78 Beyer number.
“Then we got excited real quick and thought we could win the Breeders’,” smiled DePaulo.
And although he didn’t win the 1 1/2-mile Breeders’, the third and final leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, Seeking Albert finished a credible fourth while again improving his Beyer number to 85.
That number improved again last time out when Seeking Albert posted a 90 Beyer figure when fourth in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes won by Canadian International rival Johnny Bear.
“After the last race, the jock (David Moran) had to get the outrider to help pull him up. He’s a little freight train,” said DePaulo.
And should things continue moving in the right direction for Seeking Albert, there’s a chance the locomotive could find even more ground in his future.
“I’m kind of thinking about the Valedictory,” said DePaulo of the season-closing marathon contested at 1 3/4-miles on the Woodbine main.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR BRNJAS
At age six, Johnny Bear is coming into his own.
In his 33rd career start, local Pattison Canadian International contender Johnny Bear pulled off an upset victory to earn his first graded stakes win in the Northern Dancer last time out on home turf.
While the Ontario-bred’s Grade 1 victory was surprising to some, his connections believed in him from the beginning when they doled out more than $278,000 to acquire the 2012 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society Yearling Sale topper.
“I really did my research when we purchased him and he was a very expensive purchase, at least for us,” said trainer Ashlee Brnjas, who has developed Johnny Bear into a champion for her father’s Colebrook Farms and their partner Bear Stables Ltd. “The English Channels are not early comers and I know that everybody was all hyped up about him at the very beginning because he was so expensive and he was a yearling sale topper and he was a bit of a disappointment as a two-year-old, but he’s technically not designed to be that and he’s proving that his breeding is exactly what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s long, turf, older.”
Johnny Bear has rewarded their patience with a 2017 campaign that includes five of his seven career wins and has lifted his earnings to nearly $600,000.
Bred by Tall Oaks Farm, the chestnut son of English Channel out the stakes-winning mare In Return is a full brother to this year’s Breeders’ Stakes champion Channel Maker.
SANDY HAWLEY TO OVERSEE PCI POST POSITION DRAW
Legendary jockey Sandy Hawley, who was inducted into the Canadian Racing Hall of Fame in 1986, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1992, and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, will be the guest drawmaster for the 2017 Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International.
In 1973, Hawley became the first jockey to win more than 500 races in a single year toppling a mark set by Bill Shoemaker. A winner of 6,450 career races, Hawley is a four-time Queen’s Plate champ, and has captured the International on two occasions with Youth (1976) and Golden Act (1979).
The Pattison Canadian International post position draw will be held on Wednesday, October 11 at Woodbine Racetrack and Hawley will be on hand to assist with the festivities. The media event will get underway at noon and will be streamed live at CanadianInternational.com.
The 80th edition of the Pattison Canadian International will be held on Sunday, October 15, 2017 and will be broadcast live on TSN3 from 5:30 p.m. ET.