Bullard’s Alley, sent away at 42-1, recorded the most dominant victory in Pattison Canadian International history with a romping 10 3/4-length score in Sunday’s Grade 1, $800,000 1 1/2 mile turf feature for three-year-olds and upward.
The victory was the first Grade 1 stakes win for Bullards Alley, the first Grade 1 for trainer Tim Glyshaw, and the first in the Canadian International for jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva, who was recording his second stakes win of the afternoon and fourth win overall on the day. The $87.90 win payoff also was the longest in Canadian International lore.
“I saw the horse the last five times he ran; I watched all the replays,” said Da Silva, who was riding Bullards Alley for the first time. “This horse has been running a very good race. You know, he always closes.”
Messi took the lead heading into the first turn of the Canadian International with Johnny Bear and Postulation in closest attendance. Down the backstretch, Messi maintained a clear advantage with Postulation following while racing off the rail and Johnny Bear on the inside.
The opening quarter went in :26.58, the half in :52.81, and the three-quarters in 1:18.98 on the “soft” surface.
Bullards Alley, meanwhile, was running along in fourth place within easy striking distance and the top four continued in that fashion as the mile went by in 1:44.52.
It was at about this point that the big guns were expected to fire their shots but it was Bullards Alley who powered to the front and led by two lengths as the 1 1/4 miles went by in 2:10.40. From then on, the five-year-old gelding increased his margin, leadings by 6 1/2 lengths at the furlong marker before stopping the clock in 2:34.37.
Oscar Nominated, who had raced just behind Bullards Alley in fifth place for the opening mile, also launched a bid but was no match for the winner and had to settle for second money under Julien Leparoux.
“I had a great trip, no excuse,” said Leparoux. “I was just second-best today and the winner ran a big race. He’s a nice horse and the main thing is to relax and make a big run and that’s what he did.”
Flamboyant, invading from California, ended a half-length back in third with Joel Rosario aboard.
“He ran good,” said Rosario. “For a moment I thought I could be second, but [Oscar Nominated] kept on fighting and got us. He handled it beautifully and responded, but then steadied a little because of the soft ground. He kept fighting, but was third-best today.”
Idaho, looking to give his trainer Aidan O’Brien his 25th Grade/Group 1 win of the year to tie the late trainer Bobby Frankel’s mark set in 2003, was along for fourth money, just a half-length shy of Flamboyant, while suffering his second straight defeat as the favourite in the race at 2.30-1.
Defending champion Erupt also disappointed, rallying from last place to be third with a furlong to run but then flattening out to finish fifth, a length behind Idaho as the 4.45-1 second favourite.
Chemical Charge, the other European invader in the lineup, trailed early and never entered serious contention while finishing sixth as the 4.75-1 third choice.
Enterprising, Postulation, Messi and local hopeful Johnny Bear, virtually eased while crossing the wire, completed the order of finish.
Bullards Alley, who had raced for a $30,000 claiming tag in his debut at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28, 2014, was winning for the sixth time in his 35th career start with his only previous graded stakes win coming in the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap last May at Churchill Downs.
“He ran the best race of his life in a graded stakes at Churchill last year on a ‘yielding’ turf course so we knew he liked it,” said Glyshaw. “But then so did the Europeans, and a lot of the others in the field.
“I think today, he just got first jump on them and sometimes they stay off you when you’re a longshot like that and it was just too late for them.”
Owned by Wayne Spalding and Faron McCubbins, Bullards Alley had made his local debut here July 2 in the Grade 3 Singspiel over the Canadian International course and distance and finished second, beaten a neck, on firm going.
“Up here he barely got beat, that’s one of the reasons we brought him back, because he seems to like this course a lot,” said Glyshaw. “At Arlington, he had a horse make a right hand turn right in front of him. He was going to be competitive in that race, and Kentucky Downs in the last race, the turf was just too hard for him.”
Bullards Alley’s win also was a career highlight for his owners.
“It just blew my mind,” said Spalding. “I never believed he would run that good, but he’s got the heart to do it, he just hasn’t got a break here lately and he finally got one.”
“He likes the deep turf so it all worked out good.”
Bullards Alley paid $87.90, $29.50 and $10.90. He combined with Oscar Nominated ($9.40, $5.80) for a 7-1 exacta worth $685.80. A $1 trifecta of 7-1-2 (Flamboyant, $8.40) paid $2,549.40 and a $1 superfecta of 7-1-2-4 (Idaho) returned $20,891.25.