In boxing's heyday, a controversial fight would result in promoters putting up the money for a rematch.
Horse racing doesn't quite work that way but with $2 million on the line in today's Canadian International, the top four finishers from the Sept. 20 Northern Dancer Turf return to the Woodbine turf course looking to settle the score.
Just as Well, who came into the race off a second-place finish in the Arlington Million, ended second in the Northern Dancer as well but ended up with the big prize by staying behind the melee that was forming in front.
At the quarter-pole, Marsh Side, last year's International champ, was in the centre of the course. About an eighth of a mile later, he was 20 feet closer to the rail. His drifting in caused Quijano to also drift in a bit, right into the path of Champs Elysees who was poised to roll right by both of them.
Jockey Garrett Gomez was forced to stand up in the saddle and pull Champs Elysees away from the mess but could not recover.
"Garrett said he had him cranked into third gear and was ready to hit fourth gear and give it full throttle," Juddmonte Farm manager Garrett O'Rourke told Woodbine Entertainment. "Then all of a sudden the gap started to close, and when you pull back on a horse like that, it takes a while to get going again."
Marsh Side was disqualified to fourth in the race.
So Champs Elysees could use a cleaner run and if given that could end up with a few prizes. The six-year-old son of Danehill won the Northern Dancer in 2008 and was subsequently third in the International. His season ended with a win in the Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup in December.
After three U.S. starts to begin 2009, Champs Elysees has been stabled at Woodbine since the summer, finishing third to Rahy's Attorney in the Nijinsky Stakes then finishing a close second behind Marchfield in the Sky Classic. So with four starts in Canada, Champs Elysees, if successful, could capture a Sovereign Award and perhaps horse of the year. In addition, the winner of the International gains an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.
Facing the returning foursome are four other starters, three from Europe. The 5-2 morning-line favourite Jukebox Jury comes from England off two narrow victories in group company. Buccellati and Allied Powers are considered longshots in the field. Spice Route, second in last year's International for trainer Roger Attfield, is the lone Canadian hopeful.
The day's action features two other races with Breeders' Cup berths. The $1 million E.P. Taylor is a qualifier for the Nov. 6 Filly and Mare Turf and features four horses based in Europe and two who have recently been imported to North America. Rainbow View, winner of the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown, Ireland, is the 8-5 morning-line choice. Princess Haya is the 7-2 second-choice off her upset win three weeks ago in the Canadian Stakes where she nosed out champion Forever Together.
The $500,000 Nearctic Stakes offers a spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and features Jungle Wave. The Sid Attard trainee was claimed for $62,500 in May went on to win the Play the King Stakes in August and was fourth to Ventura in the Woodbine Mile. Hero's Reward is the 7-2 second-choice.