Legendary Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien is on the verge of making racing history on Sunday’s Pattison Canadian International card, at Woodbine.
Last weekend, Roly Poly’s victory in the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes brought O’Brien within two of Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Group/Grade 1 wins in a calendar year.
O’Brien will be represented on Sunday at Woodbine by Rain Goddess in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes and Idaho in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International.
The Irish-bred Idaho, who is a full brother to world-travelling multi-millionaire Highland Reel, has enjoyed a productive four-year-old campaign that includes a victory in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot in which fellow International contender Chemical Charge finished third.
The talented son of Galileo next finished third in the Group 1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at Ascot a little more than five lengths back of superstar Enable.
Following a sixth as the favourite in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga, Idaho tried his luck in the Group 1 Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly finishing eighth in a race won by his supremely talented familiar rival Enable.
Idaho finished fifth in last year’s International won by returning champ Erupt.
Rain Goddess, an Irish-bred daughter of Galileo, will be making her first start on Canadian turf in Sunday’s 1 1/4-mile Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes. However, it will be her second start in North America after finishing eighth to Dacita in August in the Grade 1 Beverly D as part of the Arlington Million undercard.
O’Brien stands an excellent chance of equalling Frankel’s record at Newmarket ahead of the International card. He is represented by Happily, Magical and September in the Friday’s Fillies’ Mile and by Seahenge, US Navy Flag and Threeandfourpence in Saturday’s Dewhurst Stakes.
Ryan Moore will be at Woodbine for both O’Brien mounts.
FIRST WAVE OF EUROPEAN CONTENDERS ARRIVE AT WOODBINE
The first wave of Europeans, which included Canadian International participant Chemical Charge, checked in very early Tuesday morning following a flight from Amsterdam which had been delayed by three hours.
Joining Chemical Charge were Nezwaah and Blond Me, both here for the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, and Cotai Glory, for the Grade 2 Nearctic.
Chemical Change, trained by Ralph Beckett, finished a good third behind Idaho in Ascot’s Group 2 Hardwicke and comes here off back-to-back victories, the most recent in a Group 3 race over 1 1/2 miles of Polytrack.
“He looks well,” said traveling head lass Lindsey Metcalfe, who accompanied Chemical Charge on his trip here along with exercise rider Joao Cardoso. “He’s tired, like the rest of us.”
Oisin Murphy, a go-to rider for Beckett, retains the mount.
Nezwaah raced in the E.P. Taylor last year at three, finishing seventh but beaten just two lengths, but returns an improved performer with two wins including her first Group 1 in the Pretty Polly at The Curragh for trainer Roger Varian.
In her last appearance Nezwaah finished fourth in the Yorkshire Oaks won by the scintillating three-year-old filly Enable, who recently capped a five-race Group 1 win streak in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
“She shipped over good; we’re happy with her,” said traveling head lad Wayne Tanner, who accompanied Nezwaah here along with groom Petra Moravkova. “She was coming here or to Belmont (for last weekend’s Flower Bowl). We weighed the options.”
Regular rider Andrea Atzeni will be here for Nezwaah.
Blond Me, a five-year-old, is trained by Andrew Balding, who won a Canadian International with Phoenix Reach in 2003.
Her best races this year include a Group 2 win at York and a second behind the talented Winter in Goodwood’s Group 1 Nassau.
A subsequent start, which came in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, is best ignored according to handler Leanne Masterton, who accompanied Blond Me on her journey here along with Chris Hannaford.
“She was hampered badly, and he (jockey Oisin Murphy) pulled her up,” said Masterton.
Murphy will be back in the irons for the E.P. Taylor.
“This race has been the plan,” said Masterton.
BROWN DUO OF RAINHA DA BATERIA AND FOURSTAR CROOK IN GOOD ORDER FOR E.P. TAYLOR
Rainha da Bateria, who has shown a fondness for the local turf course, will be trying to improve on last year’s fifth-place finish for trainer Chad Brown when she makes a return appearance in Sunday’s Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.
The $500,000 E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4 mile turf race for fillies and mares, is expected to attract a field of nine. Others confirmed for the race include the Graham Motion-conditioned Quidura, who captured the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes in her last start on September 16, and a second Brown trainee in Fourstar Crook, winner of four New York-bred stakes plus the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx Racing.
Rainha da Bateria was victorious in her Woodbine debut, defeating her more fancied stablemate Dacita by a nose in the 2016 edition of the Canadian, and returned four weeks later to finish just 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner in the E.P. Taylor.
This year, her lone win in three starts came at Woodbine in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/4 mile race in which she dead heated for the top spot with Starship Jubilee.
“She always runs really well there at Woodbine; that’s one reason why we’re coming,” said Brown, who conditions Rainha da Bateria for Lael Stables.
Rainha da Bateria last saw action at Arlington Park on August 12, coming from well off the pace to finish fourth just 1 3/4 lengths behind Dacita in the Beverly D over 1 3/16 miles of turf.
“She was too far back, unfortunately,” said Brown. “It was a lot to do, but she did run well.”
Brown also believes the nine-week gap will be beneficial.
“I think she runs well fresh; that’s why I’ve given her a little time in between starts,” said Brown. “She runs another ‘A’ race for us, hopefully.”
Julien Leparoux, who rode Rainha da Bateria in her two outings here last year, regains the mount after a three-race hiatus.
Fourstar Crook, owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stable and Gary Asquith, sports an admirable record off 9-2-0 from 13 career starts.
The five-year-old is coming off a solid score in Belmont’s John Hettiner, displaying a huge late kick to prevail in that 1 1/8 mile turf stakes for the second straight season.
“She’s a very consistent horse,” said Brown. “She’s very good, and I think the mile and a quarter will suit her just fine.”
Javier Castellano retains the mount on Fourstar Crook.
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 TSN5 from 5:30 p.m. ET.