Saturday, October 15, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Canadian International (G1)

Idaho, Dartmouth Invade 2016 Canadian International

By: Reinier Macatangay, Lady and the Track

Without a doubt, the $1 million Canadian International (GI), scheduled for Sunday at the 1 1/2-mile distance at Woodbine, has been friendly to invaders. Foreigners own a six-race win streak in this event, with the last American-based winner coming in 2009 (Champs Elysees). Four overseas-based horses are entered this time.

Subsequently, the streak will likely continue this weekend. Out of the four invaders, Idaho and Dartmouth look most probable to keep the European domination going. For one, both of them are using Lasix, which helps.

But, there are other reasons to side with Idaho and Dartmouth.

In Idaho’s case, he has the familiar Aiden O’Brien as his trainer, and Americans know O’Brien is successful at bringing horses to this continent and winning major turf races. When analyzing overseas horses, siding with a trainer with past success is important because the horse needs to acclimate to the new place. The trainer can help.

Idaho’s form is not terrible either. He owns a Group 2 win this year in Great Britain. Idaho also finished runner-up to Harzand more than once, and Harzand rates as one of the top 3-year-old runners in Europe, if not the best.

Furthermore, Idaho’s only “clunker” came in the St. Leger on Sept. 10, but O’Brien can turn form around quickly. Remember when Magician ran a poor race overseas and came back to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) a few years ago? Whether through Lasix or other methods, Europeans sometimes wake up when they come to North America.

As for Dartmouth, he raced against good company overseas as well. Fans are familiar with the name Highland Reel, who defeated Flintshire in Hong Kong last December. Dartmouth defeated Highland Reel in the Hardwicke Stakes (GII) at Ascot. Add the Lasix, and Dartmouth should be a prime contender in this spot too.

The other two Europeans do not offer as much appeal, although they deserve small consideration.

Erupt is owned by Flaxman Holdings, a group that is familiar to Americans. When he competed against Highland Reel and Dartmouth in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (GI) though, he lost by over four lengths.

In dirt racing, four lengths is not a lot of ground to make up.

When it comes to turf racing, four lengths can signify a thorough beatdown because the flow of grass races encourages a clustered finish (slow and bunched early, fast late).

Protectionist starts from the outside, and he shows a three-race winning streak. The wins were earned in Germany though, and it is hard to trust a German Group I event as equal to a Group I in Great Britain or France.

Before the streak, Protectionist had trouble picking up wins in Australia, a racing circuit which arguably also falls somewhere below the Group I racing standard in Great Britain and France.

Beyond the invaders, the competition appears more questionable.

Danish Dynaformer likes this racetrack, but his sole 2016 win came against the washed up Hardest Core. The Pizza Man defeated him by over three lengths in the local Northern Dancer (GI) too, which is not a good sign either.

World Approval is a pace presence at best. He should fade down the lane.

The Pizza Man needed a 53-second half mile to take down the Northern Dancer. It is unlikely to see the same fractions here, although if the half did go in 53 again, better horses are around to close the gap.

Wake Forest did a decent job closing into the soft Northern Dancer pace, when he started three lengths off the lead and lost by a neck. At least Javier Castellano hops on board. The overall class just remains questionable.

Taghleeb is a Grade II or Grade III type at best.

Bettors only need Idaho and Dartmouth, two opposite locations on the North American map, for horizontal wagers. Hopefully, bettors waste their money on The Pizza Man and ignore the two main European contenders.

One of them will deliver.

$100 Handigambling:

$30 Win - Idaho
$35 Exacta Box - Idaho, Dartmouth

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