Jukebox Jury early favourite in Canadian International

Eight world-class thoroughbreds will thunder down the 1¼ mile turf course in the $2-million Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine Racetrack (5:40 p.m. ET) Saturday.

The event is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series with the winner getting a direct entry into the Breeders Cup next month.

It was also renowned for being the final race for the great Secretariat in 1973. His 6½-length victory is the widest margin in the history of the event.

1. Champs Elysees (Juddmonte Farms) 4-1

Trainer: Robert J. Frankel

Jockey: Garrett Gomez

Champs Elysees is looking for his first win of the season. This will be one of his final races of his career and he is set to stand at Banstead Manor in Newmarket, England in 2010.

The six-year-old horse and Gomez made a bold move in the mid-stretch to challenge for the lead in the Sept. 20 Northern Dancer Stakes.

Quijano and Marsh Side, two International contenders, forced Gomez to abruptly check and finish a close fourth. He was later given third place when Marsh Side was disqualified for interference.

2. Allied Powers (Saad Bin Mishrif) 15-1

Trainer: Michael L. W. Bell

Jockey: Jim Crowley

The four-year-old colt is coming off a second place finish in a Group 3 event in England.

“We’re really pleased with the post,” Gillian Dolman, head traveling girl of Allied Powers, told reporters. “Hopefully, the jock will be able to take him back. He likes to drop out of it. Hopefully, he’ll come with a run at the end.”

Travelling that long of a distance can be a concern for some thoroughbreds, but not Allied Powers.

“He’s settled in really well,” she said. “He’s been doing most of his training on the Polytrack since he’s been here. Tomorrow [Thursday], we’re going to breeze on the turf. Your soft ground here is like our good ground.”

3. Quijano (Stiftung Gestut Fahrhof) 6-1

Trainer: Peter Schiergen

Jockey: Andrasch Starke

While the seven-year-old gelding stills trains in Germany, he has returned to Woodbine in the autumn for the past three years.

Quijano is coming off a second place finish in the Northern Dancer Stakes on Sept. 20.

“He came out of the race [Northern Dancer] very good,” said Ilke Hildebrand, head traveling girl. “Last year, we were here one month and he didn’t run very well in the International. I hope this time it’s better.”

4. Just as Well (Augustin Stable) 6-1

Trainer: Jonathan E. Sheppard

Jockey: Julien R. Leparoux

The Ontario Racing Commission stewards awarded the six-year-old horse the victory in the Northern Dancer Turf at Woodbine on Sept. 20 following a lengthy inquiry.

5. Marsh Side (R. S. Evans) 7-2

Trainer: Neil D. Drysdale

Jockey: Javier Castellano

The six-year-old horse is the returning champion of the International.

He would have been coming into the race on a high, but was disqualified for interference in the Northern Dancer Stakes on Sept. 20.

Patrick Lawley-Wakelin, racing manager of Marsh Side, is happy drawing the fifth post and is looking for an outstanding run.

“With eight runners, it’s going to be a very tactical race,” he said. “It’s right in the middle of all the action. I’m sure there won’t be too many people trying to get on the inside of us.”

6. Buccellati (Burton Agnes Stud Co. Limited) 10-1

Trainer: Andrew Balding

Jockey: William T. Buick

The five-year-old horse has a couple of Group 3 wins in England.

Leanne Masterton, assistant trainer for Andrew Balding, is confident the horse can pick up a victory.

“He’s only a pony, but he’s got a big heart,” she said. ” He’s pretty fresh coming into this. He’s got a good holiday and he’s ready.”

7. Jukebox Jury (Paul Nataf) 5-2

Trainer: Mark Steven Johnston

Jockey: Royston L. Ffrench

The three-year-old colt was named after the 1960s BBC television series.

After a solid two-year-old campaign he was well back in his first two starts of the year, including a 14-length loss to Sea The Stars in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.

He has recovered nicely by winning his past two starts.

“He’s travelled really, really well,” said Hayley Kelly, head traveling girl for trainer Mark Johnston. “It’s his first time travelling and he ate and drank the whole way here. He’s settled in really well.”

8. Spice Route (Usk Valley Stud) 8-1

Trainer: Roger Attfield

Jockey: James McAleney

Attfield hopes the five-year-old gelding can improve on his second place finish in the International a year ago.

“He breezed a half mile this morning with Lady Shakespeare,” Attfield said, after Spice Route was drawn eighth. “He worked very well. Actually, I wasn’t going to run [in the International].”

One of the reasons Attfield was going to miss the International was because he wanted to run the horse in a mile and one-half at Keeneland in two weeks time.

“[It] would have given me another two weeks with him,” he said. “But he breezed really, really nicely this morning, so I decided to put him in.”