By Emily Shields
Desert Encounter (Ire) is a 2-1 second choice to successfully defend his title in the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International, the ninth race on a 12-race program at Woodbine on Saturday, October 12. The card also includes the $600,000 E.P. Taylor (G1) for fillies and mares, and the $250,000 Nearctic (G2) for sprinters.
#1 Ziyad (GB) (even) comes in from France, where he was a group 2 winner last out. He is one of four overseas shippers in a light field of six. He has been top three in nine of ten tries at the 1 ½ mile distance and has over $419,000 in earnings. Carlos Laffon-Parias trains the four-year-old gelded son of Rock of Gibraltar (Ire).
#2 Pivoine (Ire) (10-1) is a gelded son of Redoute’s Choice (Aus). He was second in England last out against group 3 competition over 1 3/8 miles, beaten just a length by Desert Encounter. His last victory was at York in July, and he was fifth in the rich Arlington Million (G1) in Chicago in August. Andrew Balding trains this longer shot, who is six for 22 lifetime.
#3 Nessy (8-1) is one of two North American-based runners. He was second at 23-1 in the local prep for this race, the rich Northern Dancer (G1), beaten two and a half lengths by Old Persian. Ian Wilkes trains the son of Flower Alley, who did go back to Kentucky to train for this with two works at Keeneland in the last two weeks.
#4 Desert Encounter (Ire) (2-1) is the defending champion. He was an 8-1 upset last year when he defeated Thundering Blue to win, then ran third in the Dubai City of Gold (G2) at Meydan in March. He has won his last three starts, all against group 3 competition, including the Legacy Cup over Pivoine.
#5 Alounak (Fr) hails from Germany. He was a group 3 winner there last out over 1 ¼ miles; that was his first victory since April, 2018. This will be only his third start outside Germany, the other two came in France. Waldemar Hickst trains the four-year-old son of Camelot (GB), who last ran August 24.
#6 Pumpkin Rumble (15-1) rounds out the field. Trainer Kevin Attard has the popular son of English Channel primed to upset here off a win in the Alphabet Soup on the grass at Parx in September. That was only his third start of the year; last season, Pumpkin Rumble won the grade 3 Valedictory as a heavy favorite and won three in a row. He has only won once on the grass but has been top three in eight of ten tries on the surface.
Watch all the action at Woodbine this weekend live on TVG, where Joaquin Jaime will be hosting on site.
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