Walton Street, invading from England, waltzed to his first Grade 1 victory under the popular Frankie Dettori in Saturday’s 83rd running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Pattison Canadian International here at Woodbine.
The 7-year-old gelding, conditioned by Charlie Appleby, scuttled a bid for a third consecutive Canadian International win by Desert Encounter, who rallied from far back early to finish 5 ¾ lengths back as a brave runner-up under substitute rider Emma-Jayne Wilson.
“I think to be honest it worked out perfectly how we thought it would,” said Alex Merriman, assistant to trainer Charlie Appleby, after watching Walton Street’s dominant performance. “I thought he would go forward and slot in.
“Frankie has his game plan, and turning in he always knew he was gonna kick on and he’s gone and seen the race on nicely.
Dettori, who was winning his record fourth Canadian International following successes with Mutafaweq (2000), Sulamani (2004), and Joshua Tree (2010), who remains the only three-time winner of the race.
Primo Touch, running back in eight days following a front-running 1 ½ mile turf win under allowance terms, employed similar tactics on Saturday under Daisuke Fukumoto.
Assuming command early from his No. 5 post, Primo Touch led around the first turn of the race which encompasses one full circuit of the E.P. Taylor turf course and held sway by 3 1/2 lengths with a first quarter in :25.00.
Walton Street, who had settled into a comfortable stalking position, remained unhurried as Primo Touch led by five lengths through a half in :49.49 and by four with the mile in 1:40.49.
Dettori, who had already surveyed the opposition behind him, let out his mount enough to lead by a length as they turned for home.
The winning margin was all that remained in doubt at this point as Walton Street was in front by five with a furlong to run and increased his advantage slightly while stopping the clock in 2:29.07 on a course rated “good.”
Walton Street and Frankie Dettori, picture Michael Burns Photography
Desert Encounter had won the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Canadian International, which was postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With his scheduled rider Danny Tudhope sidelined by travel issues, locally-based Wilson took over and guided the 9-year-old gelding through a creditable performance.
Primo Touch, the longest shot on the board at 41-1, hung tough for third money, 4 ¾ lengths behind the winner in a surprisingly good effort. English Conqueror and Belichick, also trained here, ended fourth and fifth, respectively.
Corelli, returning from New York after winning the Grade 3 Singspiel Stakes with those three aforementioned locals in his wake, disappointed in the Canadian International as he appeared to fail to stay the trip after looking favorably situated as the 5.15-1 second choice.
Bluegrass Parkway and Fantasio, invading from south of the border, wound up in the last two spots in the field of eight.
Fantasio, sent off at odds of 5.95-1 as the third favorite under the streaking Joel Rosario, was unable to make a serious impression and faded to last after stalking the pace.
Walton Street returned $3.70 and topped an $18.60 exactor over 7-1 fourth choice Desert Encounter.
Primo Touch spiced up the other exotics with the trifecta coming in at 226.90 and the $1 superfecta at $909.55.
Walton Street, a homebred who races for the powerful Godolphin outfit, was recording his seventh win from 19 career outings and has finished in the top three on 15 occasions.
Bred in England, the son of Cape Cross was coming into the Canadian International off a good third in the Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis Berlin in Germany. That race was Walton Street’s first in more than four months and followed a solid campaign in Dubai earlier this year.
“Yeah, he was in great form in Dubai and he ran a great one in Germany last time and he’s put in a good performance here today,” said Merriman. “He’s been with us a long time. He’s a favourite in the yard and it was nice to see. He’s a lovely horse. “
Frankie celebrates, picture Michael Burns Photography