10/16/2010 6:29PM

Joshua Tree by a head in International; BC a possibility

Michael Burns
Joshua Tree (right) holds on to win the Canadian International.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Aidan O’Brien-trained Joshua Tree barely held off two other European raiders, Mores Wells and Redwood, to capture the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International at Woodbine Saturday.

Joshua Tree ($11.20) lost a shoe in the paddock, which delayed the start of the mile and a half turf event for six minutes, but it didn’t bother him in the race. He rated nicely in mid-pack on the backstretch under Irish jockey Colm O’Donoghue, as Fifty Proof set moderate fractions, over a course labeled good.

Joshua Tree took dead aim at Fifty Proof early in the stretch, and he overtook that rival at the sixteenth pole and briefly took control. He appeared to hang in deep stretch, but got home on top by a head over 20-1 shot Mores Wells, in a time of 2:32.72.

Redwood, the 2-1 favorite, finished another nose back in third, and a half-length in front of Al Khali in fourth. The order of finish was completed by Fifty Proof, Chinchon, Simmard, Marsh Side, and Memorial Maniac.

O’Donoghue said he had an ideal trip in the Win and You’re In event for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

“He broke really well, got a good position early, and settled down well into the race on the backstretch,” O’Donoghue said. “The pace started to pick up from about a half-mile out, and he got into the best position in the race. The horse on my outside fell away, and he quickened up really well, and ran strong to the line. Obviously, he was prepared for today. He was trained perfectly for the race.”

Joshua Tree, a Group 2 winner last year at 2, was winless in just two starts this year heading into the International, which was his first race with Lasix.

He earned $1.2 million for owners Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier, and Khalifa Bin Hamad Al Attyah. Agents for the latter owner said there is a chance that the son of Montjeu could run back in the Grade 1 BC Turf Nov. 6 at Churchill.

It was the second International triumph for O’Brien, who also won with Ballingarry in 2002.