10/14/2011 12:30PM

Woodbine: Joshua Tree looks for repeat victory in Canadian International

Michael Burns
Joshua Tree wins the 2010 Canadian International at Woodbine by a head over Mores Wells and Redwood.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The top three finishers from last year’s $1.5 million Canadian International, a trio of Europeans, are all back for another go in Sunday’s renewal at Woodbine, and Joshua Tree will be looking to double up in the 12-furlong event that has lured a record 16 horses from four different countries.

The 74th International heads a challenging 11-race card that includes two other Grade 1 turf stakes, the $1 million E.P. Taylor for fillies and mares at 1 1/4 miles and the $500,000 Nearctic, a six-furlong sprint. All three are Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In events, with the winners receiving a fees-paid berth into the corresponding BC race.

Post time for the International is 5:42 p.m. Eastern. Along with the E.P. Taylor, it will be broadcast live across Canada on The Score from 4-6 p.m. Both are part of the late pick four, which has a guaranteed pool of $200,000.

BREEDERS' CUP CHALLENGE: Racing schedule, replays, and past winners »

Joshua Tree is exiting a distant third-place finish in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany behind the brilliant Danedream, who subsequently romped in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

“I thought he ran good in Germany, but he didn’t handle the soft ground,” trainer Marco Botti said. “He acts the best on fast ground, or with a little bit of cut.”

It rained heavily in the Toronto area Wednesday and then a bit more Thursday night. With more rain in the forecast before Sunday, the course, at best, would be good and could even be soft.

Mores Wells won the 2010 Stockholm Cup International as a prelude to his narrow loss in the International. This time around, he’s coming off a second in that same Group 3 in Sweden. The 2006 Stockholm Cup produced International winner Collier Hill.

“We’re optimistic that he’ll run another big race,” trainer Mikel Delzangles said. “Good ground would be preferred.”

Redwood benefited from a superb ride by Michael Hills to take the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf here last year and then came back to finish third, beaten a head, in the International. He has been idle since ending up fourth in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes at Goodwood July 29.

“It’s a lovely course at Woodbine, and he’s handled it very well,” trainer Charlie Hills said. “It has that sweeping bend and a long straight. It’s a track he’s well suited for.”

The imposing Treasure Beach set a lively pace last time before retreating in the Group 1 Arc at Longchamp. It’s a race that you can ignore, according to T.J. Comerford, an assistant to trainer Aidan O’Brien, who trained Joshua Tree for last year’s International win.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about the Arc run,” Comerford said. “He didn’t have a hard race. This race was always his plan. He’s one of the best horses that we’ve brought here. He was beaten a head in the English Derby. He won the Irish Derby, and he won the Secretariat. Traveling took nothing out of him.”

The Oct. 2 Arc was Treasure Beach’s first outing since the Aug. 13 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park. He will race with Lasix, like he did in that Grade 1 for 3-year-olds.

Quest For Peace has won three in a row, including the Oct. 1 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot for trainer Luca Cumani, who sent out Infamy to win the 1988 International on short rest.

“It’s a little bit tight, but it’s been done before,” Cumani said.

Sarah Lynx will try to become the first female to win the International since Infamy. Trainer John Hammond said she prefers 12 furlongs over the Taylor distance of 10 furlongs.

Arctic Cosmos was sidelined for a year due to a leg injury, according to trainer John Gosden, before he wound up second in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge. His career highlight is a victory over Joshua Tree in last year’s Group 1 St. Leger Stakes.

Rounding out the European contingent are Bronze Cannon and Mikhail Glinka.

Trainer Roger Attfield entered two local stalwarts, 9-year-old Musketier and Simmard, who was beaten a neck last time in the Northern Dancer.

“Musketier has proven himself as a very competitive, strong-running horse,” Attfield said. “Simmard’s always been in his shadow, but he’s had a few bad breaks. He keeps knocking, but he can’t quite get in. They’re both doing very well.”

Kentucky shipper Rahystrada handled a European-style course beautifully last month when he won the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Turf at Kentucky Downs under a hand ride.

Kara’s Orientation figures to set a quick pace, in the manner of his front-running triumph in the Grade 2 Sky Classic Stakes in August.