October 16, 2016 - 5:03 PM
TORONTO - Stephane Pasquier found his horse and the winner's circle Sunday in the $1-million Pattison Canadian International.
Pasquier took Irish-bred Erupt to the lead midway down the stretch to capture the Grade 1 event at Woodbine Racetrack. The win was Erupt's first in eight races since capturing the Grade 1 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris on July 15, 2015.
"It's like winning a World Cup," said Pasquier, a diehard fan of French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain. "We won a Group 1 in France at three years old but it was a difficult start to this year.
"Today he came back very easily. I'm very happy to have found my horse again."
The win was Erupt's fifth in 12 career starts and the $600,000 winner's share almost matched the $800,000 he'd amassed prior to Sunday's race. The 12/1 longshot won the 1 1/2-mile event in 2:32.37 on a firm turf despite rain earlier in the day.
Erupt had a solid three-year-old campaign, winning four-of-seven starts for $632,731 in earnings. But the four-year-old son of Dubawi had a second- and third-place finish to show from his four previous races this season.
Erupt stood fourth for most of Sunday's race before Pasquier made his move coming down the stretch. British-bred Dartmouth, owned by Queen Elizabeth II, was second by a length in the nine-horse field, followed by U.S.-based Wake Forest.
The remainder of the field, in order of finish, included The Pizza Man; Idaho; Danish Dynaformer; Taghleeb; World Approval and Protectionist.
Erupt, who drew the No. 8 post, paid $26.30, $9.50 and $5.60 while Dartmouth returned $4.70 and $3.50. Wake Forest paid $5.10.
"I was worried about my stall number (No. 8 post) but he started well," Pasquier said. "It's so difficult to find good horses and when you have one, to keep him in a good way to be a top horse is very difficult.
"I'm proud to see him back today."
Erupt and Pasquier ended two race streaks with the win.
Sir Michael Stoute, the trainer for Dartmouth, was chasing a third straight International title and fourth overall. And Ryan Moore, the jockey aboard Idaho, came into Sunday's race having won the last three events.
Idaho, the lone three-year-old in the field, was the early 5/2 favourite but didn't look comfortable prior to the race. Idaho was sweating profusely and appeared very agitated as he approached the starting gate.
Dartmouth was looking to secure Queen Elizabeth II — a four-time visitor to Woodbine for the Queen's Plate — her first win on Canadian soil. But jockey William Buick said his horse ran a solid race.
"The winner went off and won easily but he stuck well for second," Buick said. "I'm delighted with the run.
"He did his best. He ran his heart out."
Wake Forest's jockey Javier Castellano tipped his cap to Erupt and Pasquier.
"At the top of the stretch when I asked him, he responded but I have to give the winner a lot of credit," Castellano said. "The winner just took off and he was much the best.
"We were third-best today."
The win was the second for Erupt's owner, Flaxman Holdings, at Woodbine. The business, owned by Maria Niarchos-Gouaze, captured the '99 E.P Taylor Stakes with Insight.
Despite Erupt's long winless streak, Electra Niarchos, Niarchos-Gouaze's niece, said the connections were always confident the horse would be victorious again.
"You travel the world hoping for the best," she said. "So when you come here you can only hope that luck will be on your side.
"We do this for a reason. We have to believe each time. Like all horses, you have bad luck and you have good luck. We were unlucky this year but now he's proven today he's back in himself."
Pasquier feels after Sunday's win that Erupt's next race will come at next month's Breeders' Cup. Predictably, though, Niarchos was much less commital.
"There are many options open," she said. "We'll take one thing at a time . . . we'll see how he is.
"After today, we have to consider a lot of options."
Earlier on Sunday's card, American-bred Al's Gal — owned by '16 Queen's Plate winner Kenneth Ramsey — claimed the Grade $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares three-years-old and up in a photo finish.
The 6/1 pick held off British-bred Suffused for the victory in the 1 1/4-mile turf event in 2:01.60 with Banzari, another British horse, taking third.
And Luis Contreras led Calgary Cat to a stirring victory in the Grade II $300,000 Nearctic Stakes for three-year-olds and up.
Contreras rallied the 15/1 longshot from the outside to nip Stacked Deck and Conquest Enforcer in a three-way finish in 1:08.32.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016