With just three weeks to go before the 2012 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita the Win and You're In races are wrapping up for another year. Today's Nearctic, E.P. Taylor and Pattison Canadian International are the last three Breeders' Cup Challenge races of 2012. The Woodbine card begins at 1:00pm Eastern, with the stakes portion of the card going to post at 2:31pm (Durham Cup), 3:04pm (Nearctic), 4:38pm (E.P. Taylor) and 5:44pm (Canadian International).
Below are the entries and changes for today's Woodbine card (via Equibase).
Let's take a look at the graded stakes races on the Woodbine card.
Race 4 - Grade 3 Durham Cup, 1 1/8 Miles, Polytrack, 3up
The lone non-turf graded stakes event on the card features a field of just six going nine furlongs with 5-Delegation grabbing morning line favorite status at 9/5.
Delegation should be able to control the pace right from the starting gate which gives him a big tactical edge over the field. I think 4-Vertiformer (8/1) has a chance to run a big race in his return to synthetics if he can avoid needing to make up significant ground in the stretch.
Race 5 - Grade 1 Nearctic Stakes, Six Furlongs, Turf, 3up
Oh, lovely, a nice turf sprint to kick off the turf portion of the graded stakes races.
From the looks of the weather it's going to be a bit wet up at Woodbine today which should provide some give to the grass. Looking over the field of the Nearctic, there aren't a lot of horses with positive runs over non-firm courses.
I generally shy away from European shippers in turf sprints since North American races are so dependent on speed, as opposed to the more testing straight turf sprints in Europe. But in this case I'm willing to make an exception for 11-Fire Lily (IRE) (7/2). If the ground came up firm I'd toss this filly from consideration at the outset but, in this case, I think she'll have a shot. She's run well over soft conditions in Europe and, if this race turns out to be a testing six furlongs, she could have a fitness edge. Extra points due to the fact that the jock came over from Europe for the mount.
Race 8 - Grade 1 EP Taylor Stakes, 1 1/4 Miles, Turf, 3up f&m
I don't know that I'd play this filly as a "top choice" to win, but I'm intrigued by 2-Pagera (FR) (20/1) given some very favorable changes in this race. She'll get ground with some give - that's a plus. Olivier Peslier picks up the mount - another plus. She's coming in off of a good victory in Germany over Group 3 company. And she should have no problem with the distance. At 20/1, I'll take a shot with her in the exacta and trifecta.
It's hard not to like 3-Siyouma (IRE) in this spot given the competition she's been running again in Europe this summer. She won the Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes at Newamrket in her last race and she finished ¾ of a length behind Arc winner Solemia (IRE) in the G2-Prix Corrida at Saint-Cloud in the spring. If you're looking for a crack in the armor perhaps this is the hole: she's 4-1-0-0 at the ten furlong distance in her career.
I'm looking for a filly that should get the trip and handle the softer going which brought me to 9-Princess Highway (5/1). She's got plenty of stamina to get ten panels and she's run well enough over ground with some give to suggest she'll do just fine over whatever conditions pop up at Woodbine today.
Race 10 - Grade 1 Canadian International Stakes, 1 1/2 Miles, Turf, 3up
The big one on the day, the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International, features a field filled with quality turf runners including G1-Northern Dancer winner 6-Wigmore Hall (IRE) (6/1) and Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris winner 10-Imperial Monarch (3/1).
Imperial Monarch looks like he will be very tough in this spot given his prior races over soft conditions and at the distance. He like to go to the lead in his races (a bit of a rare tactic in European classic races) and he should be able to race in good position under Ryan Moore in the early stages. With only four career races under his belt this colt could still have some room for improvement going forward. Very dangerous.
I'm going for a price play in this spot with 12-Scalo (GB) (12/1) assuming the ground comes up on the good to yielding side by post time. His two North American races aren't that bad but he needs to keep a bit closer to the leaders in the early stages, thus the addition of the shades in this race. His late kick is quite good and he's got the class to run with this field. He had to go pretty wide in the Northern Dancer and needs to save more ground in this spot to have a chance at the upset.