When Joshua Tree arrived at Woodbine late Tuesday evening, it must have invoked good feelings for the old boy. Taking the term, “horses for courses” to the happy extreme, Joshua Tree successfully defended his title in the $1 million Pattison Canadian International this afternoon to become the first three-time winner in the history of the prestigious turf race.
Winless since victory in the International last year, the six-year-old bay son of Montjeu scored today despite breaking a step slow. That often can mean nothing but bad things for a speed horse, but Joshua Tree is more than just a need the lead type. With regular rider Ryan Moore up, the 6-1 shot moved into contention heading into the first turn of Woodbine’s beautiful, but yielding turf course. From there, the pair was content to wait patiently behind the early pace of long shot, Stormy Len.
When the real running began coming out of the far turn, Joshua Tree shot through an opening and spurted to the lead. He quickly opened a decisive three length advantage, but started to feel the effects of the 12 furlong affair in the final furlong. It looked like his third win might be in jeopardy inside the sixteenth pole, but as he has done before, he had enough left in the tank to hold the come from behind pair of Hyper and Seismos at bay by three-quarters of a length.
“He started a little slow. I was in a good position and quite happy to let the other horse (Stormy Len) take the lead,” said Moore. “I didn’t want to get into the race too early, so I let Mike (Smith, jockey of Slumber) go and I thought he stays so well, I’ll get a good run up the inside and kick home. I went a little sooner than I would have liked ideally but somehow I knew he’d stay better and outfight most of them.”
Hyper, from the powerful Ken and Sarah Ramsey stable, finished second with the German raider, Seismos, grabbing the show spot. Joshua Tree’s winning time on the wet lawn was 2:35.45.
Owned by Khalid Nabouda and Kamel Albahou, and trained by Edward Dunlop, Joshua Tree added to his remarkable record in the Canadian International. Not only did he win the Grade 1 race in both the 2010 and 2012 editions, but he also ran big in 2011, finishing second to Sarah Lynx. The three wins, and one second record in four tries in the million dollar race, are also his only four races at Woodbine. Adding to the amazing feat, is the fact that Joshua Tree has now won this race for three different trainers, having won for Aidan O'Brien and Marco Botti previously.
He may have been 0-for-5 in 2013 going in, but when Joshua Tree comes to this turf course, he clearly is a different horse. A tiring 13th in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last time, he now counts half of his six lifetime victories at the friendly confines of the Suburban Toronto racetrack. Joshua Tree also has earned approximately 80% of his lifetime earnings, inching near $4 million after today, in his four trips to the Canadian International.
I guess the ultimate question, is why should he race anywhere else? Joshua Tree is ZATT's Star of the Week!