10/16/2009 11:00PM

Euros add to International puzzle

Michael Burns
Marsh Side upset the International at 29-1 last year, but this year he's listed at 7-2 on the morning line.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The field for Saturday's $2 million Canadian International is far from the strongest in the 71-year history of the race, but it's an excellent handicapping puzzle with many possibilities. The sharp European runner Jukebox Jury will likely be favored in the Grade 1 stakes, which also has lured the defending champion, Marsh Side, Just as Well, Champs Elysees, and Buccellati.

The 1 1/2-mile International is one of three lucrative turf stakes on the 11-race Woodbine card, along with the . All three are Breeders' Cup Win and You're In events, meaning the winners receive an automatic berth into the corresponding BC race at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 or 7. The races will be shown live on ESPN2 in the United States and on TSN in Canada from 4-6 p.m Eastern.

Post time for the first race is 10 minutes earlier than usual, at 12:50 p.m.

Jukebox Jury defeated older horses by a nose to win his last two starts, the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville in France and the Group 1 Preis von Europa in Germany. He chased home three of the top horses in the world, Sea the Stars, Rip Van Winkle, and Conduit, when sixth in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in England on July 4.

"He's a battler," said Jock Bennett, an assistant to trainer Mark Johnston. "He always fights to the very finish and gives it his very all."

As a 3-year-old, Jukebox Jury will carry 119 pounds, seven pounds fewer than the rest of the field.

Buccellati is a little more accomplished than the other European shipper in the lineup, Allied Powers. Both of them are adding Lasix.

Buccellati, an eight-time winner in 24 starts, has a single score in four outings this year, which came in the Ormonde Stakes in May. He went to the sidelines after finishing far behind Ask and perennial Arc de Triomphe runner-up Youmzain in the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom in June, and was a flat fourth when he came off the bench in the Group 2 Prix Foy Sept 13.

Buccellati is trained by Andrew Balding, who sent out the 2003 International winner, Phoenix Reach. Balding said Buccellati had a troubled trip in the Coronation Cup.

"He was badly interfered with and came back a little sore after the race," Balding said. "But now he is in great shape."

Marsh Side sprang a 29-1 upset in , which came after a deceptively good fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Stakes. He also garnered fourth money in this year's Northern Dancer, but that was after being disqualified from the top spot for drifting in and causing interference through the stretch. That decision is under appeal.

The turf was on the hard side of firm in the Sept. 20 Northern Dancer, but trainer Neil Drysdale believes Marsh Side prefers ground with some give to it. He also said there is a reason why Marsh Side is a Woodbine horse for course.

"It's more suitable for him, because it's more of a galloping course," Drysdale explained. "I don't think he cares for tight turns."

Just as Well was promoted to first in the after rallying along the inside from last in the 1 1/2-mile route. He was previously second to Gio Ponti, the continent's leading turf runner, in the Grade 1 Arlington Million.

Quijano was crowded by Marsh Side around the eighth pole in the Northern Dancer, and came over on Champs Elysees, who was in the midst of a rail rally. Champs Elysees was checked by Garrett Gomez, who felt he was on the best horse in the race.

"I'm pretty sure I was going to win," Gomez said. "I was just getting ready to uncock my stick and really start to ask him when they started coming [over]. All of a sudden, they got him. It was one of those hard-luck things. Even when I got to the wire, I was running by them again, and I still hadn't asked him for his best. He's the kind of horse that the more you ask, the more he gives."

Rounding out the field is Spice Route, the runner-up in last year's International.


:: SHUBACK: (DRF Plus)

:: VIDEO ANALYSIS: Illman and Serling handicap the International (DRF Plus)