10/17/2011 12:12PM

Woodbine: Sarah Lynx makes Hammond look smart by upsetting Canadian International

Michael Burns
The French filly Sarah Lynx could run next in either the Breeders' Cup Turf or the Japan Cup, a Group 1 race on Nov. 27.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Sarah Lynx had been nominated to both the Grade 1 Canadian International, traditionally the domain of males, and the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor for fillies and mares.

And, after weighing the pros and cons of the two turf features here at Woodbine last Sunday, trainer John Hammond elected to take the road less traveled and run Sarah Lynx in the $1.5 million Canadian International.

Hammond then watched from afar as Sarah Lynx roared up the rail en route to a four-length victory under jockey Christophe Soumillon to become the first filly to win the 1 1/2-mile turf race since Infamy in 1988 and the first to even attempt to do so since Kastoria finished eighth in 2006.

“There’s not much to her, but she’s exceedingly tough,” said assistant trainer Kate Bradley, who had checked into Woodbine with Sarah Lynx and the filly’s work rider, Julie Picart, last Monday evening. “She held her own very, very well.”

Bradley said that two major factors were weighed in the decision to run Sarah Lynx in what certainly was the more difficult of the two stakes.

“A mile and a half is much better for her,” said Bradley. “And, my boss is a very shrewd man. He wanted Soumillon; he’d won a Group 2 with her in Deauville this summer. They have a great relationship; she’s a very difficult filly.”

Soumillon, who also had ridden Sarah Lynx to her first and only other victory in July 2010, was committed to ride Adventure Seeker in the E.P. Taylor for trainer Alain de Royer, for whom he had won the race last year with Reggane.

And, after Adventure Seeker had finished a respectable fourth, Soumillon capped a very eventful weekend with his four-length win aboard a surprisingly dominant Sara Lynx.

On Saturday, Soumillon had won Ascot’s Grade 1, $2 million Champion Stakes aboard the 5-year-old French gelding Cirrus des Aigles.

But the jockey lost his $79,800 share of the purse money, and was handed a five-day suspension to boot, after he was cited for violating England’s recently introduced rules on whip usage by striking Cirrus des Aigles six times – one more than the maximum allowed – in the final furlong.

“To win the Champion, a Group 1, with a French gelding was very amazing,” said Soumillon, taking the high road after his Canadian International win. “It was the biggest race at Ascot. I’m very happy, for the whole team.”

Sarah Lynx earned a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf with her victory in the Canadian International and while an appearance there is not out of the question she also is a prime candidate for the Japan Cup.

The Grade 1 Japan Cup, a 1 1/2-mile turf race on Nov. 27, offers a base purse of $6.5 million and Bradley points out that Sarah Lynx would be in line for a $4 million first prize there which would include a $875,000 bonus for winning the Canadian International.

Big day for offspring of Montjeu

Montjeu, the racehorse, was trained by Hammond and counted the 1999 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe among his six Group 1 stakes wins.

Montjeu, the stallion, was represented by Sarah Lynx and second-place finisher Joshua Tree in Sunday’s Canadian International and by the victorious Miss Keller in the E.P. Taylor.

Joshua Tree does best of 2010’s top trio

Joshua Tree, Mores Wells, and Redwood had returned for the Canadian International after finishing one-two-three in a very tight finish last year.

Only Joshua Tree was a serious factor this time around, however, as he also rallied from well back to finish second with Redwood ending seventh and Mores Wells eighth.

Claire Ricks, assistant to Joshua Tree’s trainer Marco Botti, said Monday that the colt had come out of the Canadian International in good order.

“I was absolutely delighted,” said Ricks. “I think the quality of the race was a bit better than last year and I think he ran a very good race, on ground that possibly wasn’t ideal for him.”

Mores Wells finished 12 1/2 lengths behind the winner here Sunday after attempting to rally wide around the final turn.

“He was unfortunate in his position, where he got placed in the race,” said assistant Julie Harrison, who was here with Mores Wells on behalf of trainer Mike Delzangles. “It was a very good effort.”

Mores Wells had followed up his Canadian International last year with an appearance in the Japan Cup, where he finished 13th in the field of 18 but was beaten just 5 3/4 lengths, and has been nominated again this season.

Treasure Beach, who finished third in the Canadian International, also is on the list for the Japan Cup but will not necessarily be a participant.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Treasure Beach left Woodbine in the wee hours of Monday morning on a flight to Shannon, Ireland.

Charlie Hills may return to Hong Kong Vase

Charlie Hills, who was here last year with Redwood as an assistant to his father, Barry Hills, was the trainer of record this time around.

“He half missed the break, and got caught a little bit wide,” said Hills, who had watched Redwood finish 11 3/4 lengths behind the winner. “But, he ran a good race. He didn’t take to the dead ground as well as he did when it was quicker last year.”

Redwood went on to finish second in the Hong Kong Vase last year and Hills said a return would be considered for that Dec. 11 race over 1 1/2 miles of turf.

Arctic Cosmos turns tables on Quest for Peace

Arctic Cosmos and Quest for Peace, the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the Canadian International, also will be heading back to Europe with their immediate futures undecided.

Quest for Peace had defeated Arctic Cosmos by two lengths when the pair ran one-two in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot on Oct. 1.

On Sunday, both horses finished well but Arctic Cosmos had the upper hand by three-quarters of a length.

“The boss was happy with his run,” said assistant trainer Les Reynolds, who was here with Arctic Cosmos on behalf of trainer John Gosden. “It was good to see him turn over the form with Quest for Peace.”

Laughing headed to Goldberg’s barn

One Euro shipper who will not be heading back across the ocean is Laughing, the 3-year-old filly who finished seventh but was beaten just six lengths in the E.P. Taylor.

Saddled here by trainer Charles O’Brien, Laughing had been purchased privately by owner Richard Santulli following her last-out victory in the listed Nijinsky Stakes at Leopardstown on June 9.

Laughing will be relocating to New Jersey, where her trainer will be Alan Goldberg.

Slight increase in all-sources handle

Large fields for the Canadian International, E.P. Taylor and Nearctic helped Woodbine to an all-sources handle of $6,400,112 on Sunday, up 1.2 percent from last year’s $6,322,838 when the card was held on a Saturday in order to accommodate an ESPN telecast.

The all-sources handle on the Canadian International alone was $1,512,808, an increase of 5 percent over last year’s $1,439,263.