Woodbine-based Pumpkin Rumble, a 10-time winner from 45 starts, goes for his second straight stakes score in Saturday's Grade 1 $800,000 Pattison Canadian International at Woodbine.
Owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, and trained by Kevin Attard, the eight-year-old gelded son of English Channel heads into the 1 ½-mile turf classic off an impressive win in the Alphabet Soup Handicap on September 21.
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the 1 1/16-mile turf event at Parx, Pumpkin Rumble showed plenty of fight in the stretch, using a rail rally to cross the wire a half-length victor in a course record time of 1:40.21 over 'good' ground.
“It was amazing,” said jockey Luis Saez. “We broke perfect and we saved ground. I didn't know where we were going to go because everyone was moving everywhere. We stayed on the rail, and, thank God, we did. He finished strong and I am very happy with how he ran.”
Now, the chestnut will stretch out in distance on his home turf, and take on some formidable rivals, including last year's International champ, Desert Encounter.
Attard knows exactly what to expect from his wily veteran.
“He's a horse that always shows up to compete. Those are the ones you love to have. He's a classy older guy that is as honest as they come. He's been competitive and consistent for a long time.”
Boasting 28 top-three finishes (10-8-10), Pumpkin Rumble has carved out a solid career that includes a record of 5-5-7 in 30 grass engagements.
In his past six starts, the Pennsylvania-bred has four wins and a pair of thirds. He capped off his 2018 campaign with a half-length triumph in the Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes at the Toronto oval, besting former stablemate and Attard trainee, the recently retired Melmich.
The Valedictory crown was a milestone victory for the Ulwellings.
“I'm very happy for the owners – first graded win – and they've put a lot of confidence in me to give me a lot of their horses to train and we appreciate that,” said Attard. “They've really supported Canadian racing. They're breeding a lot of horses here in Canada now and in Ontario, and they're great people to work for. It's been a pleasure.”
Adding a Grade 1 title and surpassing the $1 million lifetime earnings mark with an International win would be the icing on the cake for Pumpkin Rumble's connections.
The Smart Angle-bred star will have his biggest fan in attendance when the gates open on this year's running of the International.
“Pumpkin Rumble is a cool horse in the barn, just chills out in his stall, and tries his best each time he runs, no matter the distance or surface,” said Attard's son, Joshua.
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