TORONTO - A field of 12 Canadian-bred three-year-olds will do battle today at Woodbine in the $500,000 Breeders' Stakes, the third jewel of Canada's Triple Crown of Racing.
The 124th edition of the Breeders', at one and one-half miles over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, can be seen live on TSN at 4:30pm et/1:30pm pt. The winner earns $300,000. All horses carry 126 pounds.
There is no Triple Crown on the line this year, though. Filly Lexie Lou won the first leg, the famous Queen's Plate on July 6, but did not contest the second leg, the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on July 29, which was won by Coltimus Prime.
It marks the 11th straight year without a Triple Crown champion in Canada. Wando was the last to achieve the impressive three-race sweep in 2003.
However, there is one horse in this year's Breeders' who has competed in the first two legs and accredited himself well. That is Ivan Dalos' homebred Ami's Holiday, who finished a closing second in the Plate, one and one-half lengths behind Lexie Lou, then was third in the Prince of Wales, four and one-quarter lengths behind Coltimus Prime.
Although he'll making his turf debut, the son of Harlan's Holiday-Victorious Ami sizzled five furlongs in a turf workout last Sunday for trainer Josie Carroll, clocked in a bullet 59 1/5 seconds, handily.
Said Carroll, a two-time winner of the Queen's Plate with Edenwold in 2006 and Inglorious in 2011, "We made a last minute decision to enter him. He worked extremely well on the turf. He really seemed to take to it and we thought he deserved to give it a try. He came out of those last two races really well or we were going to wait for the Ontario Derby (September 21)."
Ami's Holiday, the 2-1 morning line choice who won last year's Grade 3 Grey Stakes, is the field's leading money winner with $448,392 and will once again be handled by jockey Luis Contreras, who won the 2011 Breeders' aboard Pender Harbour.
Carroll will also saddle another Dalos homebred, Keen Gizmo, a one-time winner in eight starts, who was most recently third in a one mile allowance while making his turf debut, with Omar Moreno named to ride.
Stronach Stables' impeccably bred Unikat, trained by Brian Lynch and ridden by David Moran, will also command plenty of support at the windows, listed as the 4-1 second choice. The son of Galileo-Dreamtheimpossible enters off an impressive three and three-quarter length score in a mile and one-quarter maiden turf contest on July 9. His only previous starts came on turf at Gulfstream Park in Florida during February and March.
Stronach has won three Breeders' (Blitzer, 1992; Basqueian, 1994; Royal Challenger, 2006), while Lynch has won two (Royal Challenger, 2006; Miami Deco, 2010). Miami Deco, the last maiden to win the Breeders', was also its highest-priced winner, paying $132.10 to win.
Lynch will also saddle J.M. Stritzl Stable's Squeeze the King, with Eurico Rosa da Silva up. The son of Niigon, who has been supplemented to the race for $12,500, recently broke his maiden on turf on July 12 after just missing in his career debut in June on Polytrack. Rosa da Silva won last year's Breeders' on favoured Up With the Birds.
Trainer Mark Casse, a six-time Sovereign Award winner who finally celebrated his first Plate win this year with Lexie Lou, will send out Stoneway Farm's East Side, as he seeks a second Breeders' win following Marchfield in 2007.
East Side, a son of turf champion English Channel, with Justin Stein up, is a one-time winner in four outings and was most recently sixth to Coltimus Prime in the Prince of Wales.
Completing the field is two-time winner Niigon Express, who finished a credible fifth in the Queen's Plate and will have three-time (Wando, 2003; Royal Challenger,2006; Marchfield, 2007) Breeders' winner Patrick Husbands aboard; Sine Metu, also a two-time winner for trainer and co-owner Tom O'Keefe; one-time winners Bangkok and Big Red Bugsy, another supplemental entry, and maidens Interpol, Milwaukee Flash and Smart Spree, who was most recently fourth in the Prince of Wales and is trained by Mark Frostad, a four-time winner of the Breeders' (Charlie's Dewan, 1995; Chief Bearhart, 1996; Portcullis, 2002; Irish Mission, 2012).
In addition to Ami's Holiday, three others - East Side, Milwaukee Flash and Niigon Express will be seeing grass for the first time.
Last year's Breeders' winner, Up With the Birds, who is competing Saturday in the Arlington Million in Chicago, went on to earn Sovereign Awards as Canada's top three-year-old colt and Horse of the Year for 2013.
FIELD FOR THE $500,000 BREEDERS' STAKES
Sunday, August 17, Race 9, Post time 5:12 p.m.
One mile and one-half, E.P. Taylor Turf Course
Post / Horse / Jockey / Trainer / Morning line
1 / Keen Gizmo / Omar Moreno / Josie Carroll / 12-1
2 / Niigon Express / Patrick Husbands / Paul Attard/ 6-1
3 / Sine Metu / Gerry Olguin / Tom O'Keefe / 10-1
4 / Squeeze the King / Eurico Rosa da Silva / Brian Lynch / 10-1
5 / Big Red Bugsy / Emma-Jayne Wilson / Ian Black / 12-1
6 / East Side / Justin Stein / Mark Casse / 20-1
7 / Bangkok / Gary Boulanger / Phil Gracey / 15-1
8 / Ami's Holiday / Luis Contreras / Josie Carroll / 2-1
9 / Smart Spree / Steve Bahen / Mark Frostad / 12-1
10 / Unikat / David Moran / Brian Lynch / 4-1
11 / Milwaukee Flash / Sheena Ryan / Mike Doyle / 30-1
12 / Interpol / Jesse Campbell / Sid Attard / 20-1