Desert Encounter seeks second straight Canadian International score

The Grade I, $800,000 Canadian International Stakes highlights Saturday’s card at Woodbine racecourse. A field of six will be tasked with a 1 1/2-mile journey on the turf course. Post time for the Canadian International, Race 9 of 12 on the day, is 5:42 p.m. ET.

#4 DESERT ENCOUNTER (2-1) produced a strong late kick to take the Canadian International last year at 8-1. He earned a solid speed figure as well. DESERT ENCOUNTER used the same race, the Group III Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup, to prep for the Canadian International that he did last year, only this time he won instead of placing third. In fact, DESERT ENCOUNTER has won three straight Group IIIs going into this start. As he was last year, DESERT ENCOUNTER will be piloted by Andrea Atzeni. Look for him to gobble up #2 PIVOINE and #6 PUMPKIN RUMBLE once set down for the drive before catching #1 ZIYAD in deep stretch.

#1 ZIYAD (Even, morning-line favorite) carries his sharp French form into this heat. He was last seen winning the Group II Grand Prix de Deauville. Prior to that ZIYAD was second in the Group I Prix de Saint-Cloud. The frontrunning son of Rock of Gibraltar may try to make every step a winning one under Maxime Guyon. ZIYAD boasts a 10-3-4-2 record at the 1 1/2-mile distance.

#3 NESSY (8-1) was last seen rallying for second in the Grade I Northern Dancer over this course last month. He was no match for the Breeders’ Cup-bound Old Persian but made up plenty of ground on the others after a slow start. NESSY can be somewhat inconsistent but his recent speed figures indicate that he’s worth using underneath. Chris Landeros has the call.

The play: $5 trifecta 1,4/1,4/3 ($10)

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