Defending champ Desert Encounter tops Canadian International nominees

Woodbine Communications
September 26, 2019 01:22pm
Defending champ Desert Encounter tops Canadian International nominees
Photo: Michael Burns/Woodbine
Defending champion Desert Encounter tops the list of stars from around the world nominated to the 82nd running of the $800,000 Pattison Canadian International.

The Grade 1 stakes event for horses 3 years old and up, contested over 1-1/2 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Based in Newmarket, England with trainer David Simcock, Desert Encounter is expected to return to the Toronto turf for the chance to defend his Pattison Canadian International title and continue his winning momentum for owner Abdulla Al Mansoori. The 7-year-old Irish-bred son of Halling and La Chicana has earned a Group 3 triple in Great Britain this summer with recent victories in the Lormarins Queens Plate Glorious Stakes, the Sky Sports Racing Winter Hill Stakes and the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup. He boasts a seven-figure bankroll and a career record reading 11-4-7 from 30 starts.

The Canadian International has attracted a contingent of highly-regarded European turf specialists including Kew Gardens and Communique.

A dual Group 1 winner last year courtesy of top performances in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris and the William Hill St. Leger Stakes, Kew Gardens is campaigned by Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, who has won the Canadian International twice before with Ballingary (2002) and Joshua Tree (2010). Owned by Mr. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Mr. Michael Tabor, the Galileo-Chelsea Rose colt is poised to make his North American debut after beginning his 4-year-old season with three runner-up efforts – his most recent in the Group 1 Cormer Group International Irish St. Leger. A five-time winner from 16 starts, he is approaching $1.5 million in lifetime earnings.

Trained by England-based horseman Mark Johnston, Communique is a two-time Group 2 stakes winner over 1 1/2 miles on the turf in Great Britain and was runner-up in the Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Berlin in Germany while finishing ahead of Old Persian, who went on to win the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine two weeks ago. Elarquam, winner of the Group 2 Sky Bet York Stakes this summer, and King’s Advice are other nominees hailing from the Johnston stable.

Returning contender Tiz a Slam, who finished fourth in last year’s Pattison Canadian International, leads the local hopefuls for Canadian Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield. Earlier this year, the multiple graded stakes winner strung together a three-race win streak that included the Louisville Stakes at Churchill Downs, as well as the Singspiel and Nijinsky over the Canadian International course and distance, before coming up just short in a three-horse photo for place in the Northern Dancer last time out. The 5-year-old millionaire son of Tiznow and Flaming Rose was bred in Ontario by Chiefswood Stables and will attempt to end a two-decade drought for Canadian-breds in the race while going after his 10th career win.

The U.S. is well-represented with nominees including Kentucky-bred rivals Zulu Alpha and Arklow, who finished 1-2 in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs earlier this month after each coming up just a neck short in Grade 1 events. Zulu Alpha, trained by Michael Maker, was collared late in the United Nations at Monmouth Park, while the Brad Cox-trained Arklow just missed in the Man ‘o War at Belmont Park. Both are multiple graded stakes winners with more than $1 million banked in career earnings.

The lucrative October 12 race card, which is the highlight of the turf racing season at Woodbine, also features the $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) over 1-1/4 miles for fillies and mares and the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (Grade 2), a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up.


Alounak (FR) – Waldemar Hickst – Darius Racing
Arklow – Brad Cox – Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and Peter Coneway
Communique (IRE) – Mark Johnston – Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed al Maktoum
Cross Border – Michael Maker – Three Diamonds Farm
Desert Encounter (IRE) – David Simcock – Abdulla Al Mansoori
Elarqam (GB) – Mark Johnston – Hamdan Al Maktoum
Fox Tal (GB) – Andrew Balding – King Power Racing Co. Ltd.
Kew Gardens (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien – Mr. Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Mr. Michael Tabor
King’s Advice (GB) – Mark Johnston – Mr. Saeed Jaber
Mount Everest (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien – Flaxman Holdings Ltd., Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith
Nakamura – Graham Motion – Staghawk Stables
Nessy – Ian Wilkes – Sierra Farm
Pivoine (IRE) – Andrew Balding – King Power Racing Co. Ltd.
Pumpkin Rumble – Kevin Attard – Al and Bill Ulwelling
Tiz a Slam – Roger Attfield – Chiefswood Stables Limited
Ziyad (GB) – Carlos Laffon-Parias – Wertheimer et Frere
Zulu Alpha – Michael Maker – Michael M. Hui


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