He hadn't found the winner's circle in 2017, but Bullards Alley thoroughly dominated Sunday's Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International by 10 3/4 lengths for the first top-level victory not only of his career, but also that of his trainer Tim Glyshaw and his owners Wayne Spalding and Faron McCubbins. Off as the second-longest shot on the board at 42-1, the 5-year-old gelded son of Flower Alley had run the best race of his life over a yielding turf course last year at Churchill Downs. When the rain began to fall at Woodbine on Saturday and the turf course came up soft for the International, the gelding's connections were quietly confident that he would run a good race. He certainly lived up to those expectations, ridden by Eurico Rosa da Silva to complete 1 1/2 miles in 2:34.37. Race favorite Idaho finished fourth at odds of 2-1.
“I saw the horse the last five times he ran; I watched all the replays,” said Da Silva, who was riding Bullards Alley for the first time. “This horse has been running a very good race. You know, he always closes.”
Johnny Bear jumped on top of the field, and was quickly joined by Messi, Postulation and Bullards Alley in a rush for the front. Messi took up the leading position by a length over Postulation and Johnny Bear, with Da Silva relaxing Bullards Alley into a comfortable fourth-place position early on. He was followed by Oscar Nominated, Erupt and Flamboyant, with favored Idaho traveling behind that trio.
The order remained largely unchanged through fractions of :26.58, :52.81, and 1:18.98, but approaching the far turn Messi tried to move away from the field a bit, stretching his advantage to 1 1/2 lengths.
Johnny Bear began to drop back as Bullards Alley advanced three-wide, drawing alongside Messi and Postulation approaching the head of the lane. Idaho, Oscar Nominated and Flamboyant were starting to make their way toward the front from the middle of the pack, but Da Silva had the jump on them.
Given the cue, Bullards Alley jumped into the bridle and quickly put three lengths on the field as he passed the quarter pole. Just as his more heavily-bet rivals started to unleash their rallies, Bullards Alley seemed to extend his stride once again, happily forging through the soft ground and pulling away.
At 42-1 Bullards Alley drew away from the field for the length of the stretch, reaching the wire a record-setting 10 3/4 lengths in front to become the first North American-trained horse to win the International in the last seven years. Da Silva pumped his fist into the air with the thrill of victory as he crossed the wire well ahead of Oscar Nominated. Flamboyant and Idaho were both close to the runner-up in third and fourth, respectively.
“It just blew my mind,” said owner Wayne Spalding. “I never believed he would run that good, but he's got the heart to do it, he just hasn't got a break here lately and he finally got one.”
Bred in Kentucky by Eugene Melnyk, Bullards Alley was an $11,000 purchase at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton Horses of Racing Age Sale. It took five starts to break his maiden, and the gelding didn't get his first stakes win until December of 2015. In May of 2016 Bullards Alley won the G3 Louisville Handicap, and in September he was a good second in Kentucky Downs' Kentucky Turf Cup.
During his first trip to Woodbine in July of 2017, Bullards Alley finished second in the G3 Singspiel Stakes. He hadn't won a race in 2017 until the International, but it was certainly an impressive victory. Overall, Bullards Alley has a record of 6-4-6 from 35 starts, with earnings of over $930,000.
“Up here he barely got beat, that's one of the reasons we brought him back, because he seems to like this course a lot,” said Glyshaw. “At Arlington, he had a horse make a right hand turn right in front of him. He was going to be competitive in that race, and Kentucky Downs in the last race, the turf was just too hard for him.”
Watch the race replay here:
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