French Raider Erupts into Breeders Cup Picture

Javier CastellanoErupt, a raider from France, is set for Santa Anita after his stunning win in the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International Stakes on Sunday (October 16) at 12/1. Erupt was immediately included as a 7/1 shot in the Breeders Cup Turf futures’ betting.

The four-year-old’s trainer Francis-Henri Graffard has always had international hopes for this colt but the Canadian International was his first run in North America for his owners and breeders, the Niarchos family.

Erupt traveled to Tokyo for the Japan Cup in November 2015, almost certainly looking for faster ground than could be found closer to home. He ran well but found himself short of room when it mattered and finished just out of the money in sixth.

This talented colt has not had the best of seasons so far. This was Erupt’s first victory since he put together an impressive sequence of four wins as a three-year-old in France that included the Grand Prix de Paris.

This season Erupt has performed well in three of his four runs. In the best of them he finished second to Silverwave in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July under his regular jockey, Stephane Pasquier. Erupt’s only disappointing start was totally predictable – he encountered unsuitably heavy conditions first time out and was beaten nearly 50 lengths by the Japanese-trained A Shin Hikari in the Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly.

At Woodbine this beautiful bay Dubawi colt was understandably not strongly fancied and started at odds of 12/1 but showed a devastating burst of speed in the stretch to demolish his opponents in style. Erupt beat Dartmouth, a more popular four-year-old son of the same sire at 3/1, more easily than the winning distance of a length suggests. Whilst Dartmouth battled hard to hold his position Erupt barely broke a sweat.

The runner-up Dartmouth is a class act in more ways than one. He is trained in Newmarket, England by Sir Michael Stoute and won at Royal Ascot for his owner, The Queen, in June. The less well connected German-bred six-year-old Wake Forest, a 9/1 shot, finished half a length further back in third for his trainer Chad Brown, staying on well in the stretch under Javier Castellano (pictured). The Pizza Man was fourth, half a length behind him.

The Canadian International 7/5 favorite Idaho, trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, was not the fastest out of the gates and never looked likely to place. He found himself towards the rear of the pack under Ryan Moore and made up some ground in the final quarter mile but was beaten two and a half lengths into fifth.

Bettors tend to blame the jockey when a favorite gets beaten and Idaho’s position in a sedately run race was not ideal. Anyone who witnessed Idaho’s runs earlier in the season ought to think that the tactics employed were not the reason for his defeat. Idaho looked to have a finishing kick similar to Erupt when winning closer to home in England.

What could the reasons have been for his disappointing effort? An obvious answer is that it was the seventh run in a long season for this son of Galileo. Another one is that it was also his first long haul flight from Ireland. Some horses cope with air travel and transferring to different climates better than others. Idaho had not been tried outside Europe before so this was a journey unlike any other for him.

Idaho’s failure to score was not the first disappointment in the day for Aidan O’Brien. Best In The World, a three-year-old daughter of Galileo, started as the favorite in the Grade 1 E.P.Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares but failed to live up to her name and finished last, beaten five lengths by Al’s Gal. It was Best In The World’s seventh start of the season and first experience of travelling beyond Europe too.

The Mark Casse-trained World Approval had a much shorter trip to Woodbine for the Canadian International and jumped well from stall two and made the most of his low draw by taking the lead and hugging the rail. Julien Leparoux enjoyed an uncontested lead on him until the quarter pole and set steady fractions, tracked by William Buick on Dartmouth. Flavien Prat had The Pizza Man close up, tight to the rail in third with Erupt racing wide of him in fourth.

The order was unchanged for the first mile with the German challenger, Protectionist, at the rear of the pack with about seven lengths covering them. It was Dartmouth who took the lead at the quarter pole as World Approval gradually weakened but a furlong out Erupt lived up to his name and blasted past him.

Pasquier did not have to ride him hard either, barely using his whip to elicit his winning effort. He said afterwards that he thought he had lots of gas left in the tank and that it was an easy win. Pasquier was delighted to have the real Erupt back, he had obviously not lost faith in him.

There should have been no shortage of fuel left as the time of 2 minutes 30.87 seconds was not a fast one. Whilst that was unimpressive, the manner of the win should give US bettors hopes of a strong show from him in the Breeders Cup Turf.

Erupt has raced against the six-year-old Flintshire, favorite in the American-friendly sportbooks’ Santa Anita futures’ betting lines, before. He finished two lengths behind runner-up Flintshire when fifth in the Arc de Triomphe a year ago. The 2015 Arc winner Golden Horn and the first three to cross the wire on that day at Longchamp, France, had all been ridden prominently but Erupt had been held up.

If Pasquier can get the tactics right at Santa Anita then he could reverse the placings with Flintshire.