10/25/2013 12:18PM

Woodbine notes: Lucayan can give Drysdale second Canadian International win

Michael Burns
Lucayan enters Sunday's Grade 1 Canadian International off a third-place finish in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Trainer Neil Drysdale is no stranger to Woodbine, and the Grade 1 Canadian International has figured prominently in his history here.

On Sunday, Lucayan will be Drysdale’s eighth Canadian International starter and will look to give the Southern California-based conditioner his second victory in the race after Marsh Side recorded a major upset here in 2008.

Lucayan, a 4-year-old colt, made his first eight starts in France and captured the Group 1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains over one mile on good turf in 2012. Since coming to Drysdale, Lucayan has finished second in a pair of Grade 2 turf stakes, including the Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles, and was a closing third last out in Santa Anita’s Grade 2 John Henry Turf Championship at 1 1/4 miles.

The $1 million Canadian International, at 1 1/2 miles, became a target for Lucayan after he rallied strongly to finish second in the Del Mar Handicap, the longest race of his career.

“He had a bit of a troubled trip, but he ran well; he settled well,” Drysdale said. “We just feel that [Woodbine’s] course might suit him very well.”

Stephane Pasquier, who rode Lucayan to his first two wins in France, will be making his Canadian debut.

[CANADIAN INTERNATIONAL: Get PPs, watch Sunday's card live]

Trainer Tom Proctor also has enjoyed success on turf here, with Marketing Mix winning three stakes and Left A Message capturing an overnight stakes this summer.

And while Proctor will be busy in California, with Marketing Mix preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, he will be represented in the Canadian International by Temeraine, an improving 4-year-old gelding who became a stakes winner in his most recent start.

Temeraine had been entered in Keeneland’s Sycamore Stakes on Oct. 17 but was scratched when that race was taken off the turf.

“We’d always considered this race anyway,” Proctor said.

Temeraine’s first brush with fame came in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap, a 1 1/4-mile turf race in July in which he was a closing second at almost 30-1. He then finished fifth at 61-1 in the Grade 1 Arlington Million over the same course and distance.

Last out, in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup, Temeraine was a game winner at 1 1/2 miles under jockey Gary Stevens, who is otherwise occupied and will be replaced by leading local rider Luis Contreras here Sunday.

“He’s been a nice surprise, what he’s done over the last three races,” Proctor said. “You get one of those horses that are out of their conditions, and you’re kind of stuck where to run. He’s a big, heavy horse, so I was very hesitant to run him long. I ran him in the Arlington Handicap just because I didn’t have another spot to run him in. That was a really big race he ran there, and in the Million, he got hung up a little bit, or he might have been third.”

Nancy O tries to match mother

Arravale won the 2006 running of the E.P. Taylor Stakes during a campaign that led to Canadian Horse of the Year and champion turf female honors. Nancy O, Arravale’s first foal, will look to follow suit in Sunday’s E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares that offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $500,000.

While Arravale was a Grade 1 winner heading into the E.P. Taylor, Nancy O, despite showing flashes of serious talent last year as a 2-year-old, will be making just her second start of the season after graduating over seven furlongs on turf under regular rider David Moran here Oct. 12.

“We had her close to running earlier, but her blood work wasn’t quite perfect, so we opted to miss the race,” said Carolyn Costigan, who trains the homebred Nancy O for her father, Bob Costigan, and Harry Dobson. “Then we ended up just giving her some time off. The seven-furlong maiden allowance was a perfect setup for us, with the E.P. Taylor in mind, and it’s kind of gone nicely since then.”

Carolyn Costigan, had she been so inclined, might have used the phrase “gone swimmingly” since that has been her main method for bringing Nancy O into peak condition. Nancy O has been taking to the pool in Welland, Ontario, since mid-August, returning to the track only to record a couple of short breezes in the week prior to her maiden win.

The following day, Nancy O was back in that town to continue her program and didn’t return to the racetrack until Friday.