10/14/2016 1:56PM

Woodbine: Evaluating chances of Euro invaders in graded stakes

Michael Burns
Protectionist, showing training at Woodbine, compiled a good record racing in Germany and could be a live longshot in the Canadian International.

Sunday is Canadian International Day at Woodbine – emphasis on “international.”

Eleven horses from Europe are entered in three graded stakes, and no wonder they have come en masse. In the last 10 years, foreign-based horses have won the E.P. Taylor Stakes seven times and the International seven times. Europeans have a six-year winning streak in the International.

There’s a strong chance they won’t leave empty-handed this year either, so let’s take a closer look at who might get the money.

Canadian International: The 3-year-old Idaho, who gets a seven-pound weight break from his older rivals, is trained by Aidan O’Brien, who won the International in 2010 with Joshua Tree, the last 3-year-old to win this race. Idaho’s best racing comes on “good” ground, and he has run on left-handed courses like Woodbine’s in six of eight starts.

Idaho stumbled and lost his rider when favored last out in the St. Leger over 1 3/4 miles and now turns back to a distance he clearly handles. The Epsom Derby, in which Idaho was third, has looked like a substandard renewal, but one of its few runners who went on to beat older horses is seventh-place Algometer, who took the measure of International runner Dartmouth. Idaho is formidable.

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Dartmouth didn’t even contest a group race at age 3, but he has come on steadily at 4. His win over Highland Reel in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot on bare form makes him a major player, but Highland Reel thumped him a month later in the Group 1 King George and probably was only prepping in the Hardwicke. Giving seven pounds to Idaho and jockey Ryan Moore, and at a fairly short price, doesn’t especially entice.

Erupt also ran in the King George, coming home 1 1/2 lengths behind Dartmouth, and while he has admirable form, including a close fifth in the 2015 Arc, this 4-year-old has not won since July 2015, and a breakthrough here seems unlikely.

The German horse Protectionist is very interesting. Throw out a disastrous 2015 Australian campaign, and you find a horse otherwise 13-8-1-0 in his career. He started in only one Group 1 this year but was the best horse in Germany, easily beating, in different races, Nightflower and Iquitos, who had the second- and third-best German performances of 2016. Protectionist is 6 but is at the height of his powers, will offer better value than Idaho, and must be used in multirace exotic wagers.

E.P. Taylor: Swiss Range is mildly appealing at her 6-1 morning-line odds, particularly while adding Lasix. She was gently stepped up in class this year and scored two good wins before coming up empty on soft ground in the French Oaks, no shame, and was better over firm when fourth against older rivals in the Group 1 Nassau last out. Trainer John Gosden’s career mark at Woodbine is 7-0-1-0.

At morning-line odds of 12-1, Parvaneh is the most appealing of the Euros. The 3-year-old filly mixed it up with older males at a 12-furlong distance that is perhaps farther than her best in the Group 1 Preis von Europa. She appears to prefer “good” ground and races with Lasix.

Best In The World, at 3-1 on the line, is a bad bet. O’Brien and Moore draw all the attention, but on form, this filly has no edge on several other Euros, and her recent win and placing came against modest opposition.

Banzari shows no sign of being much more than a listed/Group 3 horse, and her win last out came when she was allowed to lead on a slow pace over soft ground.

Aim to Please, the French 3-year-old, should be used, as she generally has run against better competition than any of her fellow foreigners. Her ability to get 1 1/4 miles is questionable, but it’s a good sign that she won last time when stretched for the first time to 1 1/8 miles.

Nezwaah has a poor outside draw and has only recently ascended to group stakes competition, but she’s an improving sort who can get 1 1/4 miles and last out was beaten just a half-length by So Mi Dar, a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Nearctic: Divine is a low-end Group 3-level sprint performer who has done nearly all his racing on straight courses and whose run around a turn last out in Germany did not suggest that bends will move him up considerably.