Woodbine hosts the final jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown on Sunday, the C$400,000 Breeders’ S., and Queen’s Plate fourth Channel Maker once again ships over from Saratoga for Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
Bred to thrive at the 1 1/2-mile trip on turf, Channel Maker figures to be happier back on that surface after two commendable efforts on the Woodbine Tapeta. The English Channel gelding rallied for second to Florida-bred blueblood Souper Tapit in the Marine (G3), where he was cutting back slightly to 1 1/16 miles and trying synthetic for the first time. Channel Maker endured a wide trip in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate on July 2 and just got denied third late by Inflexibility, who came back to capture the Wonder Where. He’ll reunite with jockey Rafael Hernandez for his first tour of the Woodbine turf since his juvenile days, when wiring the Vandal and finishing third to Good Samaritan in the Summer (G2).
Cool Catomine broke his maiden on the Queen’s Plate undercard prior to upsetting the middle jewel, the July 25 Prince of Wales on the Fort Erie dirt. Supplemented to the Breeders’ S., the John Ross pupil will be making his turf debut. Cool Catomine has turf influences in his pedigree, being by Spring at Last out of a Smart Strike mare with German Horse of the Year Martessa as his third dam. The distance may be more of a question as he breaks from the far outside post 10 with a returning Luis Contreras. Prince of Wales fourth Woodbridge must answer that question too, as full brother Artic Fern was a sprinter/miler, along with class concerns for the 1-for-10 gelding who needs to improve off his previous stakes efforts.
Final Copy, one of a trio for Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, brings a three-race winning streak over the course. The Chiefswood Stable homebred sailed through his maiden and entry-level allowance tests, then rolled from farther off the pace to beat the Mark Casse duo of Conquest Lemonraid and King and His Court in the July 23 Toronto Cup. Aside from his turf prowess, Final Copy’s pedigree suggests he should cope with the trip. The well-named full brother to 2013 Bison City winner Original Script is by Malibu Moon out of an El Prado mare. Second dam Tedarshana, by Darshaan, turned in her best efforts at 1 1/2 miles, winning twice and placing in the 1998 Dowager and Le Prevoyante (G2). With Hernandez aboard Channel Maker, Final Copy picks up a new rider in Patrick Husbands.
The placegetters give solidity to the Toronto Cup form. Conquest Lemonraid had missed by a neck in the Charlie Barley in his turf premiere, and the son of Lemon Drop Kid may offer more on the stretch-out. King and His Court by definition lends substance, as the Sovereign Award winner as last year’s champion two-year-old male. But he’s found life challenging as the distances have increased, and his seventh in the Queen’s Plate indicates that the Court Vision gelding probably isn’t looking for more ground.
Attfield’s other two entrants aren’t as accomplished as Final Copy, both Glencairn and Major Eclipse taking a class hike off maiden scores. Glencairn, beaten a head by Cool Catomine two back in the Queen’s Plate Day maiden, now reverts to turf. The Candy Ride colt is out of Roan Inish, the 2010 Woodbine Oaks winner and Queen’s Plate third, and his second dam is two-time Canadian champion turf mare Inish Glora by Regal Classic. Although not overly dripping with stamina, Glencairn’s pedigree is all class. Major Eclipse, a Chiefswood homebred like Final Copy, has raced exclusively on turf so far. Third to Lookin at Bravo after setting the pace June 14, the son of Colonel John enjoyed stalking tactics in his ensuing breakthrough. Major Eclipse, likely to lure hunch players the day before Monday’s total solar eclipse, is a Colonel John half to Niigon’s Eclipse, who just won the July 30 Victoriana, and his third dam is influential matron Loudrangle.
Of the stakes newcomers, the Michael De Paulo-trained Seeking Albert – by Einstein, of course – is the most intriguing on account of his pedigree and proven ability at the trip. A recent recruit from Lone Star Park, he was reportedly feeling the after-effects of shipping in when showing little in a Tapeta allowance. But he roared back with a stylish allowance victory at this course and distance July 14, leaving Lookin at Bravo back in sixth. That earned him a supplementary entry in the Breeders’ S. Seeking Albert is out of the royally bred Purple Trillium, a daughter of Seeking the Gold and 2000 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) champion Perfect Sting,
Lookin at Bravo, by Lookin at Lucky and the multiple stakes-winning Sky Classic mare Sunset Kisses, hails from the family of current Molly Pitcher (G3) vixen Money’soncharlotte. Further back in the line, one finds Canadian champion older male Cozzene’s Prince, the runner-up to Izvestia in the 1990 Breeders’ who went on to place twice in the Rothmans International (G1).
Two races earlier in the C$175,000 Sky Classic (G2), Can’thelpbelieving hopes for a smoother passage than he got last time in the July 29 Nijinsky (G2). Hemmed in for too long as the 2-5 favorite, the Graham Motion trainee didn’t find room until front-running Dragon Bay had already put the race away. Can’thelpbelieving, a near-miss second in the United Nations (G1) at this 1 3/8-mile trip in his prior outing, now gets a rider switch to Joe Bravo.
Adding a fresh look to the Sky Classic is the distaffer Starship Jubilee, in career-best form riding a five-race winning streak since joiing Kevin Attard. She exits victories in the Nassau (G2) and Dance Smartly (G2), the latter via dead-heat with Rainha Da Bateria, who franked the form with a fine fourth in last Saturday’s Beverly D (G1).
Rounding out the six-horse field are Pumpkin Rumble, third in the Nijinsky and Singspiel (G3) in his last pair; Pin Oak’s consistent homebred Noble Thought, eligible to do better on the step up in trip; and Charles Fipke’s homebred Galileo’s Spear, yet to live up to his lofty pedigree as the son of Galileo and Lady Shakespeare.