10/18/2007 11:00PM

Ask a juicy overlay if he's close to 6-1

EmailAsk and thou shalt receive.

Sage wisdom, indeed, from the ancients, and bettors who don't ask for Ask in the Canadian International at Woodbine on Sunday may not be receiving much in return. An improving Sadler's Wells 4-year-old, Ask appears to have been perfectly placed for his first Grade 1 victory in a race that has fallen to a European-trained horse in six of the last seven years.

Given a judicious 3-year-old campaign by the redoubtable Michael Stoute, one that concluded with a fourth-place finish in the classic St. Leger Stakes in which he finished just a head behind subsequent Breeders' Cup Turf winner Red Rocks, Ask returned from an eight-month winter vacation to win the Group 3 Ormonde Stakes in May, giving subsequent Group 1 Coronation Cup winner Scorpion a two-length beating. A foot injury sustained that day kept him out of action until Sept. 30, when he won the 1 1/2-mile, Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at Ascot, beating one of his International rivals, Honolulu, by 2 3/4 lengths.

Fresh, lightly raced, and high class, Ask will be ridden by 24-year-old Ryan Moore, Britain's champion rider of 2006 who is currently third in the standings there. Ask acts on soft and good to soft, so the expected give in the ground at Woodbine should be right up his alley. If his morning-line odds of 6-1 hold, his supporters could be well rewarded.

Irish Wells, trained in France by Francois Rohaut, ran within two lengths of BC Turf favorite Dylan Thomas when second in the 1 5/16-mile Group 1 Prix Ganay in April. More recently, he won the 1 9/16-mile Group 2 Grand Prix de Deauville on ground similar to that which he will encounter on Sunday, and while he would not be a surprising winner, he appears to be a Group 2 type at heart.

If ever there was a horse with a nose for the finish line, it is the German raider Quijano. He won 10 straight earlier in his career, among them Nad Al Sheba's Group 3 prep for the Dubai Sheema Classic. He is coming off a victory in the 1 1/2-mile Grosser Preis von Baden in which he beat seven-length German Derby winner Adlerflug by a neck. That race, however, was run on good ground, and Adlerflug's classic triumph came on soft ground. Quijano has won on soft but is better on good to firm. Peter Schiergen will give Andrasch Starke a leg up, and there is no better trainer-jockey combo in Germany, but Quijano failed in his lone try against absolutely first rate competition when seventh in the Dubai Sheema Classic and will be facing similar on Sunday.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Honolulu never fails to give a good account of himself. He acts on any kind of ground, but 12 furlongs may be the minimum distance for this stoutly bred Montjeu-Darshaan cross who, when all is said and done, is on the one-paced side.

Oracle West, trained this season in England by South African ace Mike de Kock, split two decisions with Quijano in Dubai. His second in a Newbury allowance sets him up nicely for this much tougher affair, but he really would prefer good to firm ground.

Sky Conqueror is the best of the North American defenders, but if he couldn't beat Windsor Group 3 winner Eccentric in the King Edward, he will have his hands full with Ask and Irish Wells.

Mrs. Lindsay may have been the favorite for the BC Filly and Mare Turf, but trainer Rohaut instead opted for the E.P. Taylor on Sunday. She is a sharp daughter of Theatrical who beat older fillies and mares in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Prix Vermeille when taking revenge on West Wind, who had beaten her into second in the 1 5/16-mile French Oaks in June. Lightly raced, Mrs. Lindsay was the four-length winner of a Fountainebleau allowance in her lone try on soft ground, so the going will not be a concern. Irish ace Johnny Murtagh, who won this race on Choc Ice in 2001, has the call on a filly who may have a class edge on her rivals.

John Oxx brought Timarida from Ireland to win the E.P. Taylor in 1995. This year he has Four Sins, a daughter of English Derby-Irish Derby-Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Sinndar who scraped home to beat a so-so field in the Group 2 Blandford Stakes last month. Big race jockey Michael Kinane will have to work some magic to see her home first, but she should be used in the exotics.

The Andrew Balding-trained Dark Missile is the lone foreign entry in the Nearctic Stakes on Sunday, a race that has never been won by a horse trained outside of North America. With a victory in Royal Ascot's highly competitive Wokingham Handicap and, more recently, a nose second in Ascot's Group 2 Diadem Stakes, this Night Shift filly stands a good chance of breaking the European schneid, although there is always the possibility that as a British-trained sprinter she will be outpaced early on this side of the pond.