Imposing Euro Trio Head Canadian International

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Thundering Blue gallops at Woodbine | Michael Burns

Living up to its name and history, Saturday’s GI Pattison Canadian International S. will play host to three quality Euro invaders in a competitive 11-horse renewal of the Woodbine fall staple.

Leading the charge for the away team is Clive Washbourn’s Thundering Blue (Exchange Rate). The modestly-bred gray failed to stand out in his first two seasons, but has developed dramatically in this 5-year-old campaign, annexing the G2 Sky Bet York S. July 28 before running a big third at 50-1 in the G1 Juddmonte International S. Aug. 22. Shipping to Bro Park in Sweden after that, he captured the G3 Stockholm Cup International in preparation for this first cross-Atlantic voyage.

Darius Racing’s Khan (Ger) (Santiago {Ger}) enters off an easily career-best effort in his native land. Unable to make a dent in a handful of previous Group 1 tries, the bay colt had the proverbial light switch go off to the tune of a six-length romp at 20-1 in the G1 Preis von Europa Sept. 23 at Cologne. Rounding out the invading triad is Abdulla Al Mansoori’s Desert Encounter (Ire) (Halling), a group winner who most recently ran a close third in the G3 Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup Sept. 22 at Newbury in Great Britain.

Augustin Stable’s Spring Quality (Quality Road) returns on short rest as the top domestic choice on the morning line. Upsetting the GI Woodford Reserve Manhattan S. June 9 at Belmont, the 6-year-old gelding ran third in the slow-paced GI Sword Dancer S. Aug. 25 at Saratoga and was no factor over soft ground when last in the GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational two weeks ago at Belmont.

It wouldn’t be a major North American turf race without Chad Brown and he sends out the one-two punch of Three Chimneys Farm’s Funtastic (More Than Ready) and Klaravich Stables and Bill Lawrence’s Focus Group (Kitten’s Joy). The former upset the GI United Nations S. at 23-1 two back before finishing seventh in the Sword Dancer, while the latter enters off a career high when scoring in the John’s Call S. Aug. 22 at the Spa.

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