10/13/2010 12:43PM

Spice Route won't run in Canadian International

Michael Burns
With stablemate Spice Route unable to run, Simmard will be Roger Attfield's lone representative in Saturday's Canadian International.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Roger Attfield planned to have a pair of entrants for both Saturday’s $2  million Canadian International and $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes.

And while Attfield’s participation in major races is hardly newsworthy, it is interesting to note that his 352 career stakes victories do not include scores in either of those Grade 1 turf events.

“It’s bloody annoying, isn’t it?,” said Attfield, just before entries closed for the Canadian International and E.P. Taylor on Wednesday morning.
“And now, little Spice Route has let me down. I was loving him, but now I’m not going to enter him in the Canadian International.

“I wasn’t 100 percent happy with the way he worked this morning, and you don’t put up $20,000,” referring to the International entry fee, “unless you’re 100 percent right. There will be lots of other races for him.”

Attfield now will be relying on Simmard, who will be his 13th career entrant in the 1 1/2-mile Canadian International.

Miss Keller and Mekong Melody will be Attfield’s 10th and 11th starters in the E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

The 5-year-old Simmard was making his first start in almost eight months when a close third in the Grade 2 Bowling Green over 1 3/8 miles on turf at Belmont on Sept. 11.

“It had taken me forever to get a string of races together with him, and I was looking forward to a good winter, but he jarred himself up badly when he ran on a very hard turf course at Gulfstream last January,” said Attfield.

Simmard tuned up for the Canadian International with a four-furlong breeze in 48.00 under exercise rider Melanie Giddings on the training track turf course Wednesday morning.

Mekong Melody breezed on the main turf course, going four furlongs in a leisurely 51.20 under her regular rider, Patrick Husbands.

The 5-year-old Mekong Melody had kicked off her current campaign with a nose victory over subsequent Grade 1 winner Ave here in the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly but then finished last of 10 in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Ballston Spa.

“She had a bad day at the gate, and everything went wrong,” said Attfield. “We knew that wasn’t her race. She came back and ran her race the other day.”

That occasion was the Flaming Page, a 1 1/2-mile turf stakes which Mekong Melody won for the second straight year here Sept. 26.

“She did what she had to do,” said Attfield, noting that Mekong Melody’s three-quarter-length score was accomplished in workmanlike but convincing fashion.

Miss Keller, third in the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa, returned home to capture the Grade 2 Canadian over 1  1/8 miles on turf on Sept. 19.

“She’s doing super,” said Attfield. “And, I’ve always said that a mile and a quarter would be her best distance.”

Javier Castellano appears to have the key to Miss Keller, having been aboard for her three victories this year, and has the call for the E.P. Taylor.

“She isn’t the easiest filly to ride,” said Attfield. “He suits her very well.”

Euros get to stretch their legs

The quarantine barn was a beehive of activity here Wednesday morning after eight more European invaders checked in late Tuesday afternoon with the last arrival early Wednesday morning.

Chinchon and Redwood, who arrived Tuesday, along with the final ship-in Joshua Tree, merely walked the shed row on Wednesday morning.

Silver Grey, an E.P. Taylor entrant, and Balthazaar’s Gift also remained in the barn area for their first day here.

The other European newcomers were out for some light exercise.

Mores Wells, here for the Canadian International; Shayalana, an E.P. Taylor contender; and Amico Fritz, a Nearctic entrant, were out together for a jog on the Polytrack surface.

Akarlina and Reggane, also here for the Taylor, also were out on the main track

Lahaleeb, last year’s E.P. Taylor winner who checked in last Saturday, toured the turf along with Tuesday arrivals Contredanse and Gallic Star.

Akarlina and Reggane, here for the Taylor, also were out on the main track.

The newcomers bring to 15 the total number of Europeans here for Saturday’s three Grade 1 turf features with four entered in the Canadian International, eight in the E.P. Taylor, and three in the Nearctic.

Road trip for two Attfield runners

Perfect Shirl and Missit, another pair of female turf specialists in the Attfield barn, were heading out in different directions on Wednesday.

Perfect Shirl, a homebred who races for Charles Fipke, has been entered in Keeneland’s $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup, a 1 1/2-mile race which offers Grade  1 status and is a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Missit’s target is Belmont’s Grade  3, $100,000 Athenia, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

The Athenia is looming as Missit’s swan song for Attfield, as she also is slated to go on the auction block in Kentucky.

* Jim Bannon, Woodbine television host and analyst, will be hosting a one-hour handicapping seminar focusing on the Canadian International beginning at 11 a.m. at the east end of the third floor on the grandstand. There also will be an extreme betting contest, with the buy-in of $75 comprised of a $25 entry fee and $50 bankroll. Registration will be available on the second floor.