10/20/2006 12:00AM

Beware of A-team in E.P. Taylor


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Fillies and mares from England, Germany, and the eastern and western United States are among the 11 entrants in Sunday's Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes.

But Woodbine's A-team, Arravale and Ambitious Cat, will be looking to keep the lion's share of the $1 million purse right here in Canada.

Arravale, trained by Mac Benson, is one of two 3-year-olds in the E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares. She drew post 3.

Owned by Bob Costigan, Arravale established Grade 1 credentials in two trips to California earlier this year and comes into the E.P. Taylor off a runner-up finish in the Grade 2 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile race at Woodbine on Sept. 17 that is the major prep locally for the E.P. Taylor.

Ready's Gal, trained by Todd Pletcher, established an uncontested lead in the Canadian and was able to hold off Arravale by a half-length.

But the presence of Live Life, who along with Aubonne is one of two California shippers trained by Neil Drysdale, should ensure that Ready's Gal has company on the front end this time.

"I like my filly's post, too, because you go less than an eighth of a mile and then you're into that turn," said Benson.

"What I don't know is, what this soft turf is going to do? We've never raced on it, but she's never given me any indication that she couldn't handle it."

Jose Valdivia retains the mount on Arravale, who along with the German 3-year-old filly Almerita will carry 118 pounds, five pounds less than the older entrants.

Ambitious Cat, a 5-year-old owned by Chiefswood Stable and trained by Eric Coatrieux, finished third, beaten a half-length, under then-regular rider Patrick Husbands in last year's E.P. Taylor.

Todd Kabel picked up the mount this summer and guided Ambitious Cat to her first stakes victory, in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race.

In her only subsequent appearance, Ambitious Cat finished fourth in the Canadian, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths.

"The thing that really hurt her was having nine weeks between races," said Coatrieux. "She wasn't that sharp in the early part of the race, and the pace didn't help her."

Latice and Barancella, second and fourth in the tight 2005 Taylor finish, also are back this year.

But the 2-1 morning-line favorite is Red Bloom, who is trained by Michael Stoute.

Red Bloom, a 5-year-old, won the Group 2 Blandford Stakes over 1 1/4 miles of soft turf at the Curragh on Sept. 19 in her last start.

"She's doing very well; she loves it here," said Sarah Watling, the groom and exercise rider who accompanied Red Bloom to Canada along with assistant trainer Sarah Denniff.

"She likes a cut in the ground, as long as it doesn't go too soft."

Mick Kinane picks up the mount on Red Bloom.

Angara, trained by Bill Mott, won the Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga this summer and also will attract support.

Naissance Royale, trained by Christophe Clement, won the Gradeo2 Nassau here this spring, with Ambitious Cat second.