Jockey Olivier Peslier will chase a rare double Sunday.
Peslier will be aboard Reliable Man, the early 4-to-1 second choice for the $1.5-million Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International thoroughbred race Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack. He’ll attempt to earn his first career win in Canada’s richest horse race.
Last weekend, Peslier guided Solemia, a 33-to-1 underdog, to a shocking win in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Europe’s most prestigious race.
Peslier is a four-time winner of the Arc but will be looking to become the first jockey in nearly 30 years to capture that race and the International in the same year. In 1983, Walter Swinburn guided All Along to victory in both races.
In addition to the 1 1/2-mile, 11-horse International, Sunday’s card will feature two other turf stakes — the $1-million, Grade 1 E.P. Taylor over 1 1/4-miles for fillies and mares and the six-furlong, $500,000 Grade 1 Nearctic for three-year-olds and up.
All three race winners will also secure all-expense paid berths into their respective events in the Breeders’ Cup, which will be held Nov. 2 and 3 at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.
Reliable Man, the British-bred but French-based son of champion Dalakhani, will break from the No. 7 post. The four-time winner over 11 starts has amassed career earnings surpassing $1.6-million.
The winner of Sunday’s race will receive $900,000.
Swimmer Summer Mortimer, a double gold medalist at this year’s Paralympic Games in London, was the guest drawmaster at Woodbine on Thursday.
Irish-bred Imperial Monarch was installed as the 3-to-1 early favourite and drew the No. 10 post. Trainer Aidan O’Brien will attempt to earn a third International victory, which would tie him with Pete McCann, Horatio Luro and Maurice Zilber for the most in race history. Imperial Monarch, the three-year-old son of champion Galileo, has been idle since winning the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris on July 14.
But he will have history working in his favour. Since 1958, 13 three-year-olds have won this event.
Imperial Monarch, a winner of three of four starts, will try to win the race in just his fifth career outing. He will be ridden by champion jockey Ryan Moore for the first time.
“I think he’s had so little racing that he’s still learning [about a preferred racing style],” said assistant trainer T.J. Comerford. “The last time, he made it [the pace]. It didn’t bother him.
“He’s got a great temperament. I just hope we see him at his best Sunday. He’s been off [for three months] but at the same time, we’re getting him here thinking we’ve got him spot on. He has loads of ability, it depends on how competitive a race it is.”
Joshua Tree, the Irish-bred five-year-old son of champion Montjeu, will make a third straight appearance in this race after winning it in 2010 and finishing second last year to longshot Sarah Lynx. The 5-to-1 choice will break from the No. 8 post.
Joshua Tree comes in following a close third-place finish to Orfevre in the Prix Foy last month in Paris. Orfevre went on to finish second Sunday in the Arc.
“[In the Prix Foy] I thought he was in very good form,” said trainer Marco Botti. “He seems to be coming into his best recently.
“I haven’t trained many horses as tough as he is. He loves the travelling. You put him on a plane and he seems to enjoy it.”
Jockey Frankie Dettori, who was aboard Joshua Tree last time out, retains the mount as he seeks a third Pattison win. Dettori won with Mutafaweq in 2000 and Sulamani in 2004.
He’d join Robert Watson (1942-44) as the only three-time winning jockeys of this event but would have the distinction of being the first to do so since it became a turf race in 1958.
Joshua Tree, the field’s leading money winner at over $2.1-million in earnings, will also attempt to become just the third horse since 1958 to win the International twice. The others are George Royal (1965-66) and Majesty’s Prince (1982, ‘84).
Wigmore Hall, another Irish-bred, was installed at early 6-to-1 odds and drew the No. 6 post. Wigmore Hall successfully defended his crown in last month’s Grade 1 Northern Dancer at Woodbine, holding off International rival Al Khali by a neck.
The five-year-old gelded son of High Chaparral, the field’s second biggest money winner with over $1.9-million, also won the 2011 Northern Dancer by a neck and will once again be ridden by Jamie Spencer, who was aboard for both Woodbine wins.
“This will obviously be a better race,” Bell said. “But I think the environment there really suits him.
“He’s also been given two really blinding rides by Jamie Spencer. We’ll see how he gets on when upped in class.”
Wooodbine-based Forte Dei Marmi, trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield, is the lone Canadian horse in the field. He drew the No. 3 post and was installed at early 15-to-1 odds.