How to bet the Canadian International
The late Bullards Alley, sent off at nearly 43-1, freaked by more than 10 lengths a year ago in the Canadian International (G1), handling the soft conditions with aplomb. Saturday's renewal of the C$800,000 event over 1 1/2 miles figures to be run on good-to-firm ground, which should be ideal for most every horse in the field.
From a Win bet perspective, #11 FOCUS GROUP (10-1) appears to be coming into the race as good as anyone. A winner on good ground in his last two at Saratoga, both over a distance of ground, the Chad Brown trainee overcame modest paces and won them both narrowly, the latter in the restricted $100,000 John's Call for his first stakes win.
With the likes of pace-setting stablemate #4 Funtastic (8-1) and #5 Tiz a Slam (20-1) helping up front, Focus Group is one of several that should benefit. The four-year-old is less exposed than most in the field and has come into his own this year. He's by Kitten's Joy and out of a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Film Maker, who thrice placed in the Breeders' Cup.
Morning line favorite #2 Thundering Blue (2-1) is the most serious of the three European invaders with a pair of Group wins and a third behind Roaring Lion and Poet's Word in the Juddmonte International (G1) in his last three starts. Needless to say, that form is strong.
#6 Spring Quality (4-1) can likely be forgiven a dull try two weeks ago in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) as he appeared unwilling to extend himself in the deep going. His form this year is otherwise solid, though he gives off a whiff of underlay as arguably the best of the North American contingent.
Locally-based #7 English Illusion (15-1) is running better than he ever has just a few months after being haltered for $45,000. He's traded decisions with #9 Johnny Bear (8-1) in his last two, giving up too much ground to that rival in falling short by a length in the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) last time.
Johnny Bear has won the last two editions of the Northern Dancer at odds of 9-1 and 16-1. Tenth in this race last year when the course condition perhaps worked against him, he seems capable of faring better.
We will rely on Focus Group with some saver Triactors (as our Canadian friends say) including Thundering Blue in the top slot.
$20 Win 11 = $20
$8 Exactor (Exacta) 11 with 2,6,7 = $24
$.50 Triactor (Trifecta) 2,11 with 2,6,7,11 with 2,4,6,7,9 = $11
Don't forget TwinSpires.com's two promotions for Saturday's Woodbine card: The Bet Back and the Pick 4 Winsurance on Saturday's card. For the Bet Back, opt in and place a Win wager on a single horse or entry in either Nearctic (G2), Canadian International (G1) and E.P. Taylor (G1) and get up to $10 of your bet back if your horse finishes second.
For the Pick 4 Winsurance, opt in, bet at least $50 on the Woodbine card Saturday, and play the guaranteed Pick 4 pools ($100,000 early and $200,000 late). If your Pick 4 ticket is not a winner, get a 10% refund on the cost of the bet up to $25 for each Pick 4 pool ($50 total).
(Focus Group: Coglianese Photography)