Erupt continues Euro-domination of Canadian International

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October 16th, 2016

The Niarchos Family’s homebred Erupt didn’t get his ideal pace scenario, but Woodbine’s firm turf was a sufficient canvas in itself for him to maintain Europe’s streak in Sunday’s $762,726 Canadian International (G1). A surprising overlay who went off at 12-1, double his morning-line price, the French invader delivered a superb turn of foot and became the seventh straight international to wear the sash.

Although winless since the 2015 Grand Prix de Paris (G1), Erupt brought deep formlines through his fifth in last fall’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) and sixth in the Japan Cup (G1). A case could be made that circumstances had been conspiring against him all this season. The Dubawi blueblood cast off his pent-up frustration here, possibly earning himself a shot at the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

The pace figured to be pedestrian, if not funereal, but there was one unexpected development right out of the gate: Germany’s Protectionist, instead of making use of his tactical flexibility and deep stamina, lagged at the rear. The 2014 Melbourne Cup (G1) winner was never going to outsprint a field like this, in a 1 1/2-mile race, from last. My knee-jerk reaction was that had regular rider Eddie Pedroza been here, Protectionist would have been in the vanguard. But before blaming new rider Andrea Atzeni for a miscue, perhaps Protectionist was a bit flat in his first start back from a muscle ailment.

Meanwhile, World Approval sauntered to take the lead no one else wanted and plodded though splits of :26.66, :52.79, 1:18.80, 1:44.21, and 2:08.01. The Queen’s Dartmouth was given every chance by William Buick, who had him perched in a perfect tracking spot for the entire circuit. The Pizza Man was close himself, with Erupt like a coiled spring for Stephane Pasquier in fourth. Wake Forest, Danish Dynaformer, 7-5 favorite Idaho from the Aidan O’Brien yard, and reformed claimer Taghleeb alike were all going to find it tough to make up ground from farther back.

As the Canadian International lurched into a sprint for home, Erupt lived up to his name. The Francis-Henri Graffard pupil had too many gears for the more dour Dartmouth, and World Approval beat a retreat. Pulling away by a length, Erupt clocked 2:30.87 and rewarded his loyalists with $26.30, $9.50, and $5.60.

“I was right behind the leader,” Pasquier recapped, “and when I asked him, he gave a very good turn of foot. I didn’t have to ask him so much. I was a bit worried about my draw number outside but voilà! When you have luck, it is easy to win.

“I feel that I had a lot of gas, actually. It went easily.”

Dartmouth did Her Majesty proud by soldiering on for second by a half-length, rounding out the all-Dubawi exacta.

“The trip was great,” Buick summed up. “He ran good. The winner went off and won easy but he stuck on well for second. I’m delighted with the run, he did his best. He ran his heart out.”

Wake Forest rallied for third, while The Pizza Man was the same margin back in fourth.

Javier Castellano, Wake Forest’s rider, likewise praised Erupt.

“I had a great trip. I saved all the ground on the first turn and I’m very satisfied with how he did it today. We were third best today. At the top of the stretch when I asked him he responded but I have to give the winner a lot of credit. The winner just took off and he was much the best today.”​

Idaho tried to pick up, but it was a tough ask as the whole field was quickening at the same time. As a result, his fifth isn’t quite as bad as it looks on paper. Danish Dynaformer, Taghleeb, World Approval, and Protectionist concluded the order of finish.

Erupt is now a millionaire with $1,258,713 in earnings from a record of 12-5-1-1. His resume also includes victories in the 2015 Prix du Lys (G3) and Coupe de Trois Ans, a second in the July 3 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and most recently a third in the August 28 Grand Prix de Deauville (G2).

“We won a Group 1 in France at three years old, but it was a difficult start to this year,” Pasquier added. “Today he came back very easily and I'm very happy to have found my horse again.

“It's like winning a World Cup. It's so difficult to find good horses and when you have one, to then keep him in a good way to be a top horse is very difficult. I'm proud to see him back today.”

If it were up to Pasquier, Erupt would already be making his reservations for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.

“I think, after winning a race like this, we definitely have to go there.”

Photo courtesy WEG/Michael Burns Photography