10/18/2009 11:00PM

Once again, International offers value


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Because legitimate contenders often go off at a square price, the Canadian International has been a race where value-conscious handicappers have reaped the rewards.

In the 2007 running of the event, which carries a $2 million purse and is run at 1 1/2 miles on turf, the sharp Chicago shipper Cloudy's Knight scored at 18-1 even though he was coming off a victory in Woodbine's Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes.

Cloudy's Knight returned an overlaid price because there were five accomplished European invaders in the field, and shippers from across the pond have dominated the race, winning seven of the last 11 runnings. Those seven winners returned an average of $10.90. Only the 2004 winner, Sulamani, was favored, and the longest shot was Collier Hill, who paid $23.50 in 2006.

Many of the most fancied European horses in the International have run flat, such as Kastoria, who was eighth as the favorite in 2006, while another one has stolen the show. A prime example came in 2003 with Phoenix Reach, who prevailed at 5-1 over Macaw and Brian Boru, the favored English runner.

The likely favorite in this year's International is the well-traveled European Jukebox Jury, who is coming off a nose victory in the Group 1 Preis von Europa in Germany. He won the Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville in France in his previous race, and chased home Sea the Stars, Rip Van Winkle, and Conduit when sixth in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in England on July 4.

In his only effort on soft ground, Jukebox Jury was fourth in a listed stakes in France, so he could be vulnerable if the course is on the soggy side.

As a 3-year-old, Jukebox Jury carries 119 pounds, seven fewer than what the older runners will carry in the Grade 1 race. The last 3-year-old to win the International was Phoenix Reach in 2003, and the best known 3-year-old to turn the trick was Secretariat in 1973.

The pacemaker could be Buccellati, a hard-knocking English runner who can handle any ground. He has the same trainer as Phoenix Reach, Andrew Balding.

Since the International was moved to the grass in 1958, only one horse, Royal Anthem in 1998, has led at every call.

The International winner could easily come from the local prep for race, Northern Dancer Stakes at

1 1/2 miles.

Marsh Side, the upset winner of last year's International, prevailed in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer but was demoted to fourth because he drifted in through the final furlong and crowded the runners to his inside. That disqualification is under appeal.

Just as Well rallied inside from far back to inherit the victory in the Northern Dancer, and Quijano and Champs Elysees both had trouble. Garrett Gomez, who had to check Champs Elysees, said he believes he would have won had he gotten a clear run, but a case can be made that any of the top four finishers had a shot if things had gone their way.

Buccellati has appeal at odds of

8-1 or higher, since he could garner an easy lead and keep on going.

Marsh Side finished first in the Northern Dancer and the 2008 International over a course labeled firm, but trainer Neil Drysdale said he believes Marsh Side prefers ground with some give to it. He obviously adores the expansive Woodbine course, which encircles the main track, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him become the first two-time winner of the International since Majesty's Prince in 1982 and 1984.