For the 10th time since 2010, a European raider traveled to Woodbine and claimed first prize in the Canadian International (G1).
The star of the 2021 renewal was Walton Street, a Godolphin runner exiting on-the-board efforts in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) and Grosser Preis von Berlin (G1). The seven-year-old gelding was favored at 85-100 to beat seven rivals on Saturday and left no doubt about his superiority in the 1 1/2-mile turf test.
With internationally renowned jockey Frankie Dettori aboard, Walton Street settled in second place as longshot Primo Touch dashed to a large lead through modest fractions of :25.00, :49.49, and 1:14.37. As the pace decelerated through a slow mile in 1:40.49, Walton Street edged closer, gradually taking aim at the runaway leader.
Turning for home, Walton Street delivered the winning blow. Pouncing to the lead with a sudden burst of acceleration, the son of Cape Cross drew off with authority, ultimately prevailing by 5 3/4 lengths in 2:29.07 over a good course.
“I think to be honest it worked out perfectly how we thought it would,” Alex Merriman, assistant to winning trainer Charlie Appleby, told Woodbine. “I thought he would go forward and slot in.
“Frankie has his game plan, and turning in he always knew he was gonna kick on and he’s gone and seen the race on nicely.”
Desert Encounter, a European invader seeking his third straight win in the Canadian International, rallied belatedly to secure the runner-up spot by 4 3/4 lengths over Primo Touch. The latter dug deep down the lane to edge English Conqueror for third place, while Belichick, Corelli, Bluegrass Parkway, and Fantasioso completed the order of finish.
Bred in Great Britain by Darley, Walton Street was his securing his seventh victory—and his first top-level win—from 19 starts. His biggest previous success came in the Dubai City of Gold (G2) back in March.
“Yeah, he was in great form in Dubai and he ran a great one in Germany last time and he’s put in a good performance here today,” said Merriman. “He’s been with us a long time. He’s a favorite in the yard and it was nice to see. He’s a lovely horse. “
Earlier in the afternoon, La Dragontea delivered as the 6-5 favorite in the Canadian S. (G2) at Woodbine, tracking slow fractions before edging away to win the about 1 1/8-mile turf test by one length. Ridden by Joel Rosario on behalf of trainer Christophe Clement, the four-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega finished fast down the lane to defeat Court Return and Barkin in 1:50.33. Merveilleux and Our Secret Agent trailed the compact field.