Mucciolo: Sunday's stakes analysis at Woodbine
A huge day of racing will take place at Woodbine Sunday, led by the $800,000 Canadian International S. (G1) and $500,000 E. P. Taylor S. (G1). Two additional graded races will be held – the Nearctic S. (G2) and Ontario Derby (G3) – and the latter marks the return of Queen’s Plate starlet Holy Helena. I am intrigued by each event and will shed light on my selections and plays in each.
Nearctic: This grassy sprint event will have Breeders’ Cup implications with a solid field of eight going postward. Christophe Clement’s #2 WHITE FLAG is unbeaten from a trio of turf sprints leading up to this run, with a game tally in the Allied Forces S. at Belmont most recently. Bay son of War Front ships here from the Empire State and I will side with this rapidly developing Kentucky-bred beneath Joel Rosario.
Euro import #7 COTAI GLORY has some class to him, knocking heads with some solid grassy sprinters overseas in advance of his North American debut. Trainer Charles Hills is one of the best in the business and I have some confidence that this one will make an impact in this spot.
White Flag is the win play for me, and an exacta box using that one and Cotai Glory is my plan.
Ontario Derby: Jimmy Jerkens’ #8 HOLY HELENA flopped in the Alabama S. (G1) at Saratoga but is a totally different animal on the synthetic and looms large against the boys back on her favored oval. Daughter of Ghostzapper will likely not be Del Mar-bound following this race, but she is a great talent and fun to watch run.
#2 GRIZZEL, the other filly in this field, is perfect from a pair of runs locally including a nice score in the Selene S. (G3). Mike Doyle pupil has done well in a trio of very deep turf fields and looks the main danger to the sure favorite.
I will be boxing these two fillies in a confident exacta wager.
E. P. Taylor: Nine will go forward in this 1 ¼-mile turf affair and the European contingent seems well meant. Andrew Balding’s #8 BLOND ME, who was second in the Group 1 Nassau S. two back, Aidan O Brien’s well-regarded #7 RAIN GODDESS, and Pretty Polly S. (G1) star #6 NEZWAAH are the invaders who all seem up to the task.
Graham Motion’s #3 QUIDURA was a popular winner of the Canadian S. (G2) here at 2-5 odds last time and has been a model of class and consistency since joining this barn. Trainer Chad Brown will send out a high-quality pair to add more intrigue to this classy field in #2 FOURSTAR CROOK and 2016 Canadian heroine #4 RAINHA DA BATERIA.
I personally think Quidura is a bit underrated at this stage of her career and appears to be peaking with BRIS Speed figures of 101 and 106 in her last pair. Put this one on top of the five aforementioned runners in exacta, trifecta and superfecta plays.
Canadian International: Aidan O’Brien ships in #4 IDAHO, who was fifth in this race a year ago and is exiting an eight-place run behind the other-worldly Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1) last time out. I think the race goes through this son of Galileo, as the pace of this race will be more honest compared to the early crawl in 2016. Jockey Ryan Moore riding is a positive sign.
Defending champ #9 Erupt will aim to become the fourth back-to-back winner of this race, but I was not impressed with his run in the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga last time and he has won just a single race in his last 12. I will toss him from a wide post.
Idaho is a win and place bet for me, and I will key him in the exacta over the first and third-place finishers of the Northern Dancer (Can-G1) -- #5 JOHNNY BEAR and #8 MESSI – as well as long shot #7 BULLARDS ALLEY, who ran one of the best races of his career when just missing in the Singspiel S. (G3) here at this distance three back.
Good Luck and enjoy the racing!
Handicapper John Mucciolo does the Daily Selections at Brisnet.com for Woodbine