By Nicholas Godfrey
Woodbine: Canadian International G1 Can$600,000, 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
Walton Street (Charlie Appleby/Frankie Dettori)
Frankie Dettori landed a record fourth Canadian International victory as odds-on favourite Walton Street streaked home by nearly six lengths for Charlie Appleby, who completed a lucrative North American double ten minutes later with Yibir at Belmont Park.
Dettori’s previous successes in Canada’s most storied contest came via Mutafaweq (2000), Sulamani (2004) and Joshua Tree (2012).
In truth, this is not the race it was – not even the richest race on the card anymore, and moved into the slot formerly occupied by the Northern Dancer Turf.
On Lasix for the first time, Walton Street looked to hold an obvious chance following his Dubai Carnival exploits and so it proved as the seven-year-old slammed his rivals after taking command in the straight.
The gelding scored by nearly six lengths from late-running Desert Encounter, again showing up well in Toronto, even if he never looked likely to complete a hat-trick in the race he won in 2018 and 2019; the 2020 edition never happened owing to COVID-19.
Local star Emma-Jayne Wilson took over on the veteran after Danny Tudhope reportedly had problems with immigration paperwork.
Shall we talk about it?
Alex Merriam (trainer Charlie Appleby’s assistant): “I think the race worked out as perfectly as we thought it would. We felt that one would go forward, Walton Street would slot in and Frankie had his game plan. Turning in, we always knew that Frankie was going to kick on and Walton Street has seen it out nicely.
“Walton Street has some great form out in Dubai and ran well in Germany last time. He has put in another good performance today and we are delighted for him to win a G1. He is a horse who has been with us a long time and is an old favourite in the yard.
“He settled in very well here and has taken all the training in his stride. He has done plenty of travelling to Dubai and has coped with this trip nicely. We will get him back to England now, see how he comes out of the race and then make a plan.”
Jockey Club Derby: Yibir strikes for Godolphin
Belmont Park: Jockey Club Derby Invitational $700,000, 1m4f, turf, 3yo
Yibir (Charlie Appleby/Jamie Spencer)
Godolphin’s Yibir was much the best here, scoring easily under a typically patient effort from Jamie Spencer, who also won the inaugural running in 2019 on Spanish Mission.
After looking awkward and fairly laboured in the early stages, the Great Voltigeur Stakes winner was given time to warm to his task before circling the field as they turned into the straight, where the gelded son of Dubawi swamped his rivals with a last-to-first move.
Yibir took this ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf comfortably by 2½ lengths from former Andre Fabre-trained Soldier Rising. One-time Derby favourite Bolshoi Ballet disappointed again, tracking the pace before coming up empty in the drive.
Shall we talk about it?
Jamie Spencer (jockey): “Yibir didn’t like having someone in the gate with him and was a little apprehensive when they opened. I was niggling along but he is a horse who is very responsive when you engage him – I was concerned early but even I was surprised with what he did before the quarter-pole. I gave him a squeeze and was there a mile too soon. If I had known what response I was going to get, I would have waited until halfway down the straight.”
Chris Connett (trainer Charlie Appleby’s travelling assistant): “He can be a bit of a quirky character, so it was more of a matter of if he kept his head right. When they jumped out and wasn’t really going a lick, I thought ‘Oh, he’s never done that before,’, but Jamie gave him a great ride and coaxed him into it. Once he started to roll, he’s got some engine on him.”
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Woodbine Mile: Home win for Town Cruise
Woodbine: Woodbine Mile G1 Can$1m, 1m, turf, 3yo+
Town Cruise (Daisuke Fukumoto/Brandon Greer)
The most valuable event on Woodbine’s showpiece card stayed at home as locally based Town Cruise made all, in effect nicking the Can$1m event for Brandon Greer, the six-year-old’s owner, trainer and co-breeder.
Former Richard Fahey-trained Space Traveller claimed second ahead of Frankie Dettori’s mount Raging Bull, who was never nearer after racing in midpack. Heavily favoured Set Piece sat last a long way off a moderate enough gallop and could never land any sort of blow.
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