Strong international presence in E.P. Taylor
Of the 13 fillies and mares entered in Sunday’s C$500,000 E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine, six are based in Europe. And if you include the four imports who call North America home, 10 contenders have an international dimension.
The John Gosden-trained Swiss Range looked bound for big things this spring after back-to-back romps at Newmarket, particularly in the Pretty Polly at this 1 1/4-mile distance. But the Juddmonte homebred’s summer turned anticlimactic with an eighth in the French Oaks (G1) and a soundly beaten fourth in the Nassau (G1) on July 30. Not seen since, Swiss Range gets class relief – no La Cressonnieres or Mindings here – while still pursuing Grade 1 credit. The Zamindar filly, out of a full sister to Spanish Moon, will enjoy a ground-saving trip from the rail with Joel Rosario. She’s installed at an enticing 6-1.
Fellow British sophomore Nezwaah (12-1), whose three wins have all come on synthetic, also found herself out of La Cressoniere’s league in the Prix de la Nonette (G2). The Roger Varian pupil was subsequently a fine second at Yarmouth to top-class comebacker So Mi Dar, whose gearing down late made the margin a bit closer than it otherwise would have been. Although that form may not be read too literally, Nezwaah is an honest, improving type going into her Grade 1 premiere, and Andrea Atzeni comes in for the ride. Post 12 must trigger a sense of déjà vu for Varian and Sheikh Ahmed, though: their Talmada was a heroic second in last year’s E.P. Taylor from the same poor post.
France dispatches two representatives. The 10-1 Aim to Please has a pleasing profile for trainer Francois Doumen, who sent out Siyouma to win the 2012 E.P. Taylor, also with Gerald Mosse aboard. Highly tried in the French 1000 Guineas (G1), when 10th behind La Cressonniere, Aim to Please was third in both the Prix de Sandringham (G2) and Prix de Lieurey (G3). She looked in need of a longer trip than a mile, and finally got it in the nine-furlong Prix Bertrand de Tarragon (G3). Thriving over the added ground down the Maisons-Laffitte straight, she sprang an 18-1 upset. Another furlong at Woodbine will be welcome for this three-year-old relative of Moonlady and Eishin Flash.
The four-year-old Banzari, recently acquired by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, has captured four of five since joining Henri-Francois Devin. In career form at the moment, the Motivator filly stalked and pounced in a listed race at Clairefontaine and most recently scored a front-running victory over males in the La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte (G3). Runner-up Ame Bleue didn’t flatter the form in the Flower Bowl (G1), so Banzari has something to prove in her Grade 1 bow. Alexis Badel is back aboard the 8-1 chance.
Aidan O’Brien’s Best in the World is nowhere near the level of her full sister, Found, and she’s yet to face Group 1 company. On the other hand, the Coolmore runner is very much on the upswing. Best in the World upstaged the better fancied Somehow and Harlequeen in the 1 1/2-mile Give Thanks (G3) at Cork. Cutting back in trip for the Blandford (G2) during Irish Champions Weekend, she couldn’t peg back pacesetter Shamreen on a day that was tough for closers. Between her best form being over longer, and with some give in the ground, Best in the World will need to be a little sharper to beat these. That makes her smack of an underlay as the 3-1 morning-line favorite with Ryan Moore.
Flying the flag for Germany is Parvaneh. Unplaced in three classics at home, she’s improved since stretching out to 1 1/2 miles for Waldemar Hickst. The Holy Roman Emperor filly defeated older distaffers in the T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis (G2), a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1), and finished a respectable fourth in the Preis von Europa (G1). The question is whether simply time, or added distance, has brought out the best in her. If the latter, Parvaneh may find this too short. But the 12-1 shot does pick up Flavien Prat.
Among the North Americans, the ubiquitous Chad Brown is double-handed with Rainha da Bateria and Guapaza. Rainha da Bateria sports the deepest American formline in the field. Runner-up to Tepin in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) on Derby Day, the beautifully bred daughter of Broken Vow comes off two tight finishes with stablemate Dacita. Rainha da Bateria was a roughed-up, near-miss third to Dacita in the Diana (G1). (The hard-luck fourth from the Diana, Miss Temple City, advertised its depth when beating males in last Saturday’s Shadwell Turf Mile [G1]). Rainha da Bateria gained revenge on Dacita, albeit with the help of a nine-pound weight break and a rain-affected course, in the September 17 Canadian (G2) at Woodbine. Although she’s trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time, pedigree suggests she’ll handle it, and she’s well drawn in post 4 with Julien Leparoux.
In contrast, stablemate Guapaza was done no favors when landing in post 11. The Chilean-bred spent her summer over longer trips, highlighted by victories in the 1 1/2-mile Waya (G3) and River Memories prior to an uncharacteristic sixth in the 1 3/8-mile Glens Falls (G3). But that reverse can’t be read as an indicator of her chances shortening up here. In fact, Guapaza boasts a superior formline at 1 1/4 miles. At this trip she finished second to Dacita in Chile’s Las Oaks (G1) in 2015, and third to Dacita and Sea Calisi in the New York (G2) in May. Javier Castellano sticks with the classy rebound candidate, who’s a potential value play at 15-1.
Juddmonte’s homebred Suffused comes off a career-best score in the Glens Falls (G3), and had she moved a fraction earlier, she might have edged Guapaza in the Waya (pictured) too. The Bill Mott filly came into her own when stepping up dramatically for the 1 15/16-mile Belmont Coronation Invitational on June 9, when she crushed them in course-record time for the unusual distance. It’s an open question whether Suffused can cope with this caliber of opponent on the cutback in trip. During her British career, Suffused was effective at 1 1/4 miles, although her wins came in handicap company, and she was beaten in a couple of salty listed stakes. She shapes up as Juddmonte’s secondary hope, after Swiss Range.
Mott also has the genuine Tuttipaesi, who’s run well all season regardless of the level of competition. The Santa Ana (G2) winner was fourth in the Beverly D. (G1) two back, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the import creeps into the superfecta here. Post 13 is a legitimate concern, however.
Beverly D. runner-up Al’s Gal is capable of duplicating that effort, especially since she figures to be on or very close to the pace throughout for Florent Geroux. And the 10-1 shot won’t stop; her rivals will have to go out and chase her down. Trained by Mike Maker for the Ramseys, Al’s Gal has maintained her form for the duration of her breakthrough season, with a pair of stakes scores and a trio of graded placings.
Former Canadian champion Strut the Course was fourth in last year’s E.P. Taylor (G1), when entering in stronger form, and she’d do well to repeat that result. Last-out Belle Mahone winner Uchenna reinforced the idea that she’s better on synthetic.
Earlier on the Canadian International undercard, the six-furlong Nearctic (G2) serves up a clash of generations. Mark Casse’s highly regarded three-year-old Conquest Enforcer takes on Full Mast and Passion for Action, who turn back in trip after finishing fourth and eighth, respectively, in the Woodbine Mile (G1). While Full Mast is experimenting, Passion for Action claims a course-and-distance victory in the Highlander (G2) on Queen’s Plate Day. Reigning Canadian sprint champion Stacked Deck is better known for his synthetic prowess, but he is a past winner over the course. The same goes for Canada’s champion sprinter of 2014, Calgary Cat, who was third in that year’s Nearctic. Mick Channon’s Ballyogan (G3) heroine Divine would go close if she runs up to her best form, a near-miss to The Tin Man in the Hackwood (G3) earlier in the summer.
The first stakes on Sunday is likewise over six furlongs, but on the Tapeta. The Ontario Fashion (G3) pits Sam-Son Farm’s blueblood Southern Ring against defending champion Cactus Kris and the top two from the Ballade, River Maid and She’s Explosive.
Swiss Range photo courtesy Woodbine via Twitter
Guapaza and Suffused photo courtesy NYRA/Coglianese Photography
Play for 2 Million Points Canadian International Day: If you like turf racing over a sweeping European-style turf course, Woodbine is the track to play this Sunday on Twinspires. Plus, you can compete for an extra 2 Million TSC Elite Points while you’re at it.