Joshua Tree claims Canadian International

Jockey Frankie Dettori rides Joshua Tree (right) to a victory in the Canadian International at...

Jockey Frankie Dettori rides Joshua Tree (right) to a victory in the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sunday. (Michael Burns/Photo)

RICHARD MAUNTAH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:36 AM ET

Joshua Tree absolutely loves Woodbine.

The five-year-old Irish-bred horse won his second Canadian International in three tries Sunday, and in doing so gave jockey Frankie Dettori his third win in the $1.5-million classic, the most by a jockey since the race became an international turf event.

Normally a horse who likes to track the speed, Dettori saw the turf course was kind to frontrunners so that’s where he sent Joshua Tree. They were tracked for much of the early part of the race by Air Support but were allowed to establish a pedestrian half-mile of 51 seconds and three-quarters in 1:17.

In the stretch, Dettori worked hard to get his horse home and did hear the cavalry charge behind him, but only longshot Dandino made enough of a charge to get within a half-length of him at the end.

“I discussed it with (trainer Marco Botti) and the owner,” Dettori said. “And we thought if we could go to the front we would be able to control the fractions, which is a risk because if someone takes you on, it could set it up for the closers.

“Fortunately we had enough of a cushion. When we got to the 3/8 and I started to build the momentum, he responded for me. When we got to the straight, I asked him for a little more but didn’t want to turn it into a sprint. When we got three lengths clear I was worried he went too soon but he’s a tough horse.”

Oddly enough, it’s only the fifth win of his career. He won the 2010 International after racing in mid-pack early. Last year he left himself with too much to do late and ended second to Sarah Lynx. Between that race and Sunday’s effort he had one win in nine starts.

Lucie Botti, the trainer’s wife, accompanied the horse on this Canadian journey.

“It was always the plan (to return to this race),” she said. “He is a great horse to us, very consistent and just a superstar for us.”

Botti added that, like two years ago, they will be heading to the Japan Cup. They are then looking at a run in the Dubai Sheema Classic next spring. There is no plan to retire him and no reason to believe he won’t look at a fourth International.

British runner Dandino had a great trip to end second but many folks enjoyed the effort of Forte Dei Marmi, who finished third for trainer Roger Attfield.

“I had a perfect trip,” jockey John Velazquez said. “He handled the turf perfect. Good horses beat him today, that’s it.”

Two-time Northern Dancer winner Wigmore Hall was fourth followed by Air Support, 9-5 favourite Imperial Monarch, who never made an impact, Scalo, Reliable Man, Prince Will I Am, and Lay Time.


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