It’s decision time for the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown, which will be contested next weekend on Sunday, Aug. 20 at Woodbine Racetrack.
While there won’t be a Triple Crown champion this year, Prince of Wales winner Cool Catomine will be vying for his second jewel of the series in the 1-1/2 mile event for three-year-olds on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
Owned by Jack of Hearts Racing and J.R. Racing Stable Inc., the Spring At Last-Smart Catomine colt has not yet raced on the turf, but a Wednesday, August 9 work on the grass showed trainer John Ross that the supplemental entry will be a contender.
“He did work on the training turf on Wednesday and they gave him 1:14.80 on the turf for three-quarters of a mile,” said Ross. “Luis Contreras was on him and everything went fine; he said he felt good on him. We were happy with the work and also, apparently Wednesday [August 16], they’re going to let us right up on the main turf and we’re going to do a little gallop over that. They’re letting all the Breeders’ horses gallop over that day in particular is what I understand, unless it rains, so my plan is to do that Wednesday.
“The way he’s training and what he’s doing right now, he’s on top of his game again. He came out of the Prince of Wales a very happy horse so these are all good things. We did have this turf work and that helped me make my decision to go forward so that’s our plan right now.”
Contreras will be aiming for his own personal sweep of the Triple Crown races in the Breeders’ Stakes having also won this year’s Queen’s Plate with filly Holy Helena. It’s a feat the jockey has accomplished once before. He won all three legs of the series in the same year in 2011, with Queen’s Plate champion Inglorious and Pender Harbour, who won the Prince of Wales and Breeders’ Stakes.
Woodbine’s leading trainer Mark Casse has a pair of Breeders’ Stakes contenders in recent stakes-placed Conquest Lemonraid and King and His Court, the 2016 Sovereign Award Champion Two-Year-Old Colt. Both sophomores worked separately on Sunday, August 13 on Woodbine’s all weather track, with Conquest Lemonraid breezing four furlongs in 51.00 and King and His Court breezing in 48.00.
Gary Barber’s Conquest Lemonraid is coming off a pair of second-place stakes finishes on the Woodbine turf in last month’s Charlie Barley Stakes (1 mile) on July 2 and Toronto Cup (1-1/8 miles) on July 23.
“He’s doing great. I think he’s really sitting on a big win,” said assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan of the Lemon Drop Kid-Gauze colt. “He’s been knocking at the door running so hard and so well. I think he’s just ready for a big win and doing really well on the turf so he’s looking really good.”
King and His Court finished third behind his stablemate in his first turf test this year last time out in the Toronto Cup.
“Everything is going well with him. He ran the once on the turf and ran well, and has been working over it and worked really well so right now everything’s good,” said Sullivan.
Owned by Barber and the Wachtel Stable, the Court Vision-Pennywhistle gelding is the richest of the top contenders having banked nearly $450,000 from four wins in 15 starts, including this year’s Wando Stakes (1-1/16 miles on the Tapeta) on May 7 at Woodbine.
“He’s a pretty consistent horse; he tries every time, he really does,” said Sullivan. “He loves Woodbine and especially the polytrack here, but he’s been running well on the turf too so the restricted race for a lot of money, you’ve got to try it.”
The recent Toronto Cup was won by Chiefswood Stable homebred Final Copy, one of three Breeders’ Stakes eligibles for trainer Roger Attfield. The grey Malibu Moon-Seanachai gelding is riding a three-race win streak over the Woodbine turf course.
“He came around very nicely and he’s doing very well. He will be in the entries,” said Attfield.
Major Eclipse was also a turf winner last time out for Attfield and Chiefswood Stable, breaking his maiden in his fourth career start on July 16 at Woodbine in a 1-1/16 mile maiden special weight race.
William Werner’s chestnut colt Glencairn is Attfield’s third contender. While he has made just one turf start, the Candy Ride-Roan Inish colt has improved with every start and won the fifth race of his career on August 2 in a maiden special weight contest over 1-1/8 miles on the Woodbine main. Just prior to that race, he nearly hauled down Cool Catomine in their July 2 outing.
“They’ve both just broken their maidens and they’ve come out of those races very well,” said Attfield. “I think the mile and half will suit both of them so they’ll be given the chance also.”
Final Copy (1:01.80), Major Eclipse (1:00.80) and Glencairn (1:00.80) breezed five furlongs on Sunday morning.
Trainer Michael Keogh is preparing the stakes-placed Woodbridge, who most recently finished fourth in the Prince of Wales, for breeder Gustav Schickedanz and co-owner Howard Schickedanz.
“I just don’t think he handled the track down there, which really surprised me because he works on the dirt at Woodbine,” said Keogh. “He just couldn’t seem to get ahold of the racetrack very well down there.”
On the turf, the Langfuhr-Wood Fern gelding has hit the board in four of his five assignments.
“His turf form has been decent; he was third in the Charlie Barley and last year in the Vandal he didn’t get beat far either,” noted Keogh, who plans to work the sophomore on Monday, August 14 on the training track.
The Michael DePaulo newcomer Seeking Albert is the only Breeders’ Stakes contender that has won at the distance of 1-1/2 miles on the turf.
“He’s been training well and we’re looking forward to running him,” said DePaulo, who has had the Einstein-Purple Trillium colt in his care for two starts this summer since he was purchased by Robert Marzilli.
“We bought him out of Texas so we’ve only run him twice. We’ve run him once on the poly [on June 11] and it was a so-so effort, but we got him from Texas and it was tricky procedure to get him here,” explained DePaulo.
“I think the first start he was sort of a little knocked out from his trip, but his next start [on July 14] he was fully recovered and ran a real good race. He’d be the only one in the race that’s already been a mile and a half and also won on grass.”
Seeking Albert, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 during the Sunday workout session, was supplemented to the Breeders’ Stakes after original Queen’s Plate plans didn’t pan out with the travel complications.
Three-time starter Lookin At Bravo last raced at 1-1/2 miles on the turf for trainer Kevin Attard and owner Derek Chin. Following a turf triumph on June 14 at Woodbine in his second career start at 1-1/4 miles, the lightly-raced son of Lookin At Lucky and Sunset Kisses evened out and finished sixth in the July 14 race won by the aforementioned Seeking Albert.
“He trained really well when he came to me,” said Attard. “I was keen on him early and obviously he won his second start going a mile and a quarter, which is not easy for any horse. I’m a little disappointed in his last start going a mile and a half against older horses so he’ll definitely have to step up his game.”
Lookin At Bravo worked six furlongs handily in 1:12.80 on Sunday morning.
“We were pleased with his work and it should set him up fine,” said Attard.
Channel Maker is another potential Breeders’ Stakes starter from out of town. Trained by Bill Mott for Joey Gee Thoroughbreds, Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber, the chestnut English Channel-In Return gelding has placed in a pair graded stakes and earned his only win on the Woodbine turf in last year’s Vandal Stakes (6-1/2 furlongs). Most recently, Channel Maker finished fourth in the Queen’s Plate on July 2.
Here is a look at some of the probable starters for the Breeders’ Stakes, listed in alphabetical order:
Horse – Trainer
Channel Maker – Bill Mott
Conquest Lemonraid – Mark Casse
Cool Catomine – John Ross*
Final Copy – Roger Attfield
Glencairn – Roger Attfield
King and His Court – Mark Casse
Lookin At Bravo – Kevin Attard
Major Eclipse – Roger Attfield
Seeking Albert – Michael DePaulo*
Woodbridge – Michael Keogh