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2023 Canadian International Stakes Preview | Nations Pride Tops Sunday Field At Woodbine
Nations Pride (NYRA / Joe Labozzetta)

2023 Canadian International Stakes Preview | Nations Pride Tops Sunday Field At Woodbine

This year’s edition of the prestigious $750,000 Canadian International (G1T), set for this Sunday at Woodbine, has once again attracted a top-class field of turf talents from across the world.

Having returned after a year’s absence – the race was paused in 2022 due to travel complications prompted by the worldwide pandemic – the 84th edition of the International will see eight runners vie for top prize in the 1 ¼-mile race contested over the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

The stakes-laden day of racing, which also features the $750,000 E.P. Taylor (G1T), $250,000 Nearctic (G2T), and $200,000 Algonquin (five furlongs on the inner turf), will include a special tribute to the 50th anniversary of the legendary Secretariat’s iconic 1973 International triumph, highlighted by a “Big Red” exhibit presented by the National Museum of Racing & Hall of Fame, showcased at Woodbine from October 5-8.

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The powerhouse trio of owner Godolphin, trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick return to Woodbine after teaming to win the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1T) with Master of The Seas (IRE), a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, on September 16. ​ ​

In 2021, Godolphin and Appleby won the International when Walton Street (GB) waltzed to a 5 ¾-length score with Frankie Dettori in the irons.

This time, they will look to Godolphin homebred, multiple Grade/Group 1 winner Nations Pride (IRE), a globetrotting 4-year-old son of Teofilo (IRE)-Important Time (IRE), to carry their hopes.

After a runner-up result in his September 2021 debut at two, Nations Pride reeled off four straight subsequent victories.

The bay was then entered to run in the 2022 Belmont Derby after competing in the Group 1 Epsom Derby in June.

Nations Pride impressed in his first North American test, running second in the first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series last July and built on that performance with a 1 ¾- length triumph in the $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby (G1T) a month later.

After those efforts, he travelled to Keeneland where he finished fifth, 3 ¾ lengths behind stablemate Rebel’s Romance, in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1T) in November.

Nations Pride then spent the early part of 2023 in Meydan where he won the Dubai Millennium Stakes and finished third to Lord North in the Dubai Turf.

His return to Europe yielded a stirring score in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen (G1T) at Munich in late July.

“He beat a solid field of horses that day on ground which was softer than he would prefer,” said Appleby, of the three-length victory at 1 ¼ miles over “yielding’ ground.

The International will mark Nations Pride’s first race since the win in Germany.

“Visually, his win in the Jockey Club Derby at Aqueduct,” noted Appleby of Nations Pride’s most impressive victory. “We were stepping him back up to the mile and a half which was a slight concern, but he travelled so well and won with ease.”

Appleby believes his charge will appreciate running over the E.P. Taylor course.

“He should be suited to the fair track at Woodbine,” said Appleby. “He has shown huge versatility in both Europe, North America, and Dubai. He has a great constitution and is very relaxed which has no doubt contributed to him winning from a mile up to a mile and a half.”

Grade 1 winner Adhamo (IRE), a 5-year-old son of Intello (GER)-Foreign Tune (GB), has flourished in the U.S. after four wins, including a Group 3 victory, in France. Trained by Chad Brown, the chestnut, owned by Madaket Stables LLC, Michael Dubb, Louis Lazzinarro LLC, and Michael Caruso, is 5-3-4 mark from 18 starts, with his biggest victory to date coming in the 2022 United Nations (G1T) Stakes. Bred by Wertheimer et Frere, Adhamo (IRE) will contest his seventh straight Grade 1 race.

British Royalty, a 5-year-old son of English Channel-Queen Martha, is no stranger to success on the E.P. Taylor turf, having won the 2021 Breeders’ Stakes (third jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown), at 1 ½ miles. Trained by Barbara Minshall, who co-owns with Bruce Lunsford, the bay gelding, bred in Ontario by Richard Lister, is 2-4-1 from 21 career starts.

Owned by Three Diamonds Farm, 6-year-old Dynadrive, trained by Michael Maker, will make his second start at Woodbine. The son of Temple City-Harbingerofthings was seventh in a 7 ½-furlong inner turf race at the Toronto oval in his third lifetime start on October 13, 2019. The dark bay gelding, bred in Kentucky by Spendthrift Farm LLC, has composed a mark of 8-6-2 from 31 races.

Trainer Michael Maker’s second entrant comes in the form of Starting Over, a 6-year-old grey son of Liam’s Map-Vanishing. Bred in Kentucky by George Strawbridge, Jr., the gelding has fashioned a record of 4-3-4 from 21 starts. Owned by Nice Guys Stable, the well-traveled Starting Over will be making his first start outside of the U.S. ​ ​ ​ ​ ​

English Conqueror, fourth in the 2021 edition of the Canadian International, is trained by Darwin Banach for owner William Sorokolit, Jr. The 6-year-old son of English Channel-Regal Conqueror, who is 3-4-8 from 26 starts, has raced three times in the U.S., earning a pair of seconds and a third. He was bred in Ontario by JWS Farms.

Trained by dual hall of famer Mark Casse for owner Gary Barber, 5-year-old Palazzi will look to make it four straight wins on Sunday. The son of Pioneerof the Nile-Kindle heads into the International off three straight triumphs, two on turf, the other on Tapeta, including his most recent victory, a half-length win in the 1 ¼-mile Singspiel (G3T) on September 9. Overall, the bay gelding, bred in Kentucky by HnR Nothhaft Horseracing LLC and Pioneerof the Nile Syndicate, is 5-3-2 from 23 races.

Royal Champion (IRE), trained by Roger Varian, will make his North American debut in the International. Bred and owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, the 5-year-old son of Shamardal-Emirates Queen (GB) is 4-0-3 from 12 starts. The bay gelding won the Wolferton Stakes at Ascot in June and was third in the Group 2 York Stakes at the end of July.

Field for the Grade 1 Canadian International

Post position – Jockey – Trainer ​

1 – British Royalty – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Barbara Minshall

2 – Dynadrive – Rafael Hernandez – Michael Maker

3 – Palazzi – Sahin Civaci – Mark Casse

4 – Nations Pride (IRE) – William Buick – Charlie Appleby

5 – English Conqueror – Javier Castellano – Darwin Banach

6 – Starting Over – Trevor McCarthy – Michael Maker

7 – Adhamo (IRE) – Kazushi Kimura – Chad Brown

8 – Royal Champion (IRE) – James Doyle – Roger Varian

Joshua Tree (IRE) is the only three-time winner of the Canadian International with successes in 2010, 2012, and 2013, along with a second-place finish in 2011. Other notable winners include Secretariat, All Along, Chief Bearhart, Singspiel, Youth, Snow Knight, Dahlia, and George Royal.