09/25/2008 11:00PM

European elders display stamina around the globe


The Canadian International, to be run for the 71st time next Saturday, is often a good opportunity for Woodbine racing fans to catch a glimpse of some of the most durable and well-traveled racehorses in the world.

In an age when the strength of the Thoroughbred breed is being heavily scrutinized, it is a treat to watch 6-year-old fellows like Doctor Dino and Quijano make the trip from overseas for the $2 million, 1 1/2-mile turf marathon.

Is there some magic formula to a horse's pedigree that lends itself to a horse like Doctor Dino to race well, at the highest level, in four different countries and at half a dozen different courses?

It appears as if pedigree, at least from a European standpoint, has a lot to do with a horse becoming a successful world traveler.

Doctor Dino's sire, Muhtathir, raced in England, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Dubai, and North America.

The son of Coral Eclipse Stakes winner Elmaamul, Muhtathir was a champion miler in three of those countries.

He may be recognizable to Woodbine fans, as he was fifth, beaten 2 3/4 lengths in the Woodbine Mile in 2000.

Doctor Dino's dam, the winner Logica, is a daughter of another champion miler, Priolo, who raced at the top level in England, France, and the United States.

A grandson of Northern Dancer, Priolo finished fifth in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Mile to close out his career.

In 27 races all over the world, Doctor Dino has won eight times, placed in 13 others and earned $2.7 million. The International will be his first race in Canada.

Bred by Ecurie Pelder, a farm in France that stood the stallion Pelder, Doctor Dino is the fourth foal from Logica. Her first three, all by Pelder, did not result in any winners.

"When this horse was foaled, a friend of my father's bought him," said owner Javier Martinez Salmean in The Blood-Horse. "But then he was fired from his job and he couldn't pay for him, so the breeders put him in a sale and I bought him."

Consigned by Haras du Thenny, Doctor Dino brought approximately $41,762 from MAB Bloodstock Agency.

He was Group 3-placed at 2 and 3 before winning his first stakes race at age 4.

Last year, Doctor Dino won the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont, the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin, and this summer won the Grand Prix de Chantilly in France.

Pedigree aside, trainer Richard Gibson said there are other factors that contribute to Doctor Dino being a road warrior.

"I so admire his athletic prowess, and he has this exceptional appetite to go with it," Gibson told The Independent newspaper in London. "He's so receptive to training, just thrives on it."

Comparing the horse with a well-known English rugby player, Gibson said, "Really, he's a Jonny Wilkinson of a horse."

Quijano is a homebred for Gestut Faehrhof and a son of a German Horse of the Year and five-time leading sire Acatenango, out of the Irish mare Quila, a daughter of Northern Dancer's Group 2 winner Unfuwain.

With a world-class mix of the Dancer and Blushing Groom and Lyphard on his dam's side, plus the durability of the stamina-oriented German sire line, it is not a surprise that Quijano is making his third outing at Woodbine.

A lanky chestnut, he is a Group 1 winner in his homeland as well as Italy, plus group-placed in Dubai and Hong Kong.

He was a fast-closing third in the International last year and recently prepped for this year's big race with a second-place finish, by a nose, in Woodbine's Northern Dancer Stakes.

If both tough guys compete on Oct. 4 it could be an iron-horse exactor in the $2 million event.