Updated on 09/17/2011 11:42AM

Phoenix Reach captures Canadian International


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - English invader Phoenix Reach prevailed with the addition of Lasix and blinkers under a skillful ride from Martin Dwyer in Sunday's $1.5 million at Woodbine.

Favored Brian Boru garnered all the hype prior to the Grade 1 event, off his victory in the Group 1 St. Leger Stakes, but could only manage third after mounting a wide rally from last in the 10-horse field. Irish-bred 3-year-old Phoenix Reach, who was coming off a troubled third-place finish in the St. Leger, stole the show and picked up $900,000 in just his fifth career start for Winterbeck Manor Stud and trainer Andrew Balding.

Phoenix Reach got the opening quarter over yielding turf in :25.31, before Shoal Water took control through dawdling middle fractions of :51.41 and 1:16.66 in the mile and a half race. Bowman Mill joined Shoal Water on the lead around the far turn through a mile in 1:42.51, as Phoenix Reach stalked along the inside.

Phoenix Reach found room along the rail inside the quarter pole, before drawing off to win by three-quarters of a length over Macaw, who finished a head in front of Brian Boru. Bowman Mill weakened in the final sixteenth, and ended up another length back in fourth. The final time was a respectable 2:33.62.

Dwyer said he had some anxious moments with Phoenix Reach prior to the start.

"He got a little upset before the race," said Dwyer. "He's not used to all the ponies on the track and all the buildup. He hit the gates and jumped a bit keen, but I managed to get him in behind horses on the backstretch. I had plenty of horse, and I was just waiting for a split, and once he got it, he came home real good. He's still an immature horse, who's improving with every race."

Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode 12-1 shot Macaw, was thrilled with his colt's effort. "He's such a little horse," said Bridgmohan. "He gave me everything he had. He laid his heart out."

Phoenix Reach returned $12.60 as the second choice, and headed a $137.50 exactor. The triactor returned $353.80, and the $1 superfecta was worth $1,700.60.

Ballingarry, the 2002 International winner, was scratched because of an infection in his right hind hock.

* Sam-Son Farm runners Shoal Water and Portcullis finished eighth and 10th in the International, but Sam-Son's Colorful Judgement ($16.90) and Puffer ran one-two in the next race on the card, the $108,000 Chief Bearhart Stakes.

Colorful Judgement covered a mile and a quarter on the grass in 2:07.47, with Slade Callaghan riding for trainer Mark Frostad.