10/14/2010 3:17PM

Contredanse tops big Euro contingent in E.P. Taylor

Michael Burns
Contredanse is one of eight European entrants in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes. Roger Attfield’s duo of Miss Keller and Mekong Melody are the only North American horses in the field.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – The E.P. Taylor Stakes generally attracts several European fillies and mares, lured by the 1 1/4-mile turf race’s Grade 1 status and $1 million purse. But the European influence in Saturday’s renewal of the race is unprecedented − no fewer than eight of the 10 entrants will be European shippers.

“It looks like I’m representing all of North America,” said Roger Attfield, the locally based trainer who will send out Miss Keller and Mekong Melody.

Both Attfield fillies are coming off turf stakes wins here. Miss Keller won the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Canadian, and Mekong Melody won the 1 1/2-mile Flaming Page.

But the filly to beat could be Contredanse, a 3-year-old who lost by a head to Lily of the Valley last time out in the Group 3 Prix de la Nonette at about 1 1/4 miles on good turf at Deauville on Aug. 22. Lily of the Valley scored her sixth straight win that day and went on to improve her streak to seven in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp, where she faced older fillies and mares for the first time.

Contredanse is trained by Luca Cumani, who has a strong history with Woodbine shippers, the latest being Woodbine Mile runner-up Arkadian Hero in 2000. Cumani also won the 1988 Canadian International with Infamy, the 1988 Taylor with Sudden Love, and the 1998 Taylor with Zomaradah. Sudden Love and Zomaradah were 3-year-olds.

Garrett Gomez has picked up the mount on Contredanse, who will be a first-time Lasix user.

Shalanaya is the only Grade 1 or Group 1 winner in Sunday’s Taylor. She upset the Prix de l’Opera last year, when she left Midday 1 1/2 lengths back in third. Midday went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Trained by Mike Delzangles, Shalanaya has made each of her three starts in Group 1 company this year, including a second-place finish behind the 4-year-old colt Cutlass Bay in Longchamp’s Prix Ganay over about 1 5/16 miles on turf.

Christophe Lemaire has the mount on Shalanaya, who also will be running on Lasix for the first time.

Lahaleeb was well beneath the radar coming into last year’s Taylor but emerged a 1 3/4-length winner at odds of 44-1 for trainer Mick Channon. She was sold as a broodmare prospect but was kept in training by her new interests. In her first start for trainer Paul D’Arcy, Lahaleeb finished seventh of 11 in Newmarket’s Group 1 Sun Chariot on Oct. 2 over one mile on soft going.

“She was a little bit under the weather when we got her, so we brought her along slowly,” said John Egan, who rode Lahaleeb in Dubai and Singapore earlier this year and was back aboard for the Sun Chariot. “We used her last race as a prep race for her, and she came out of it bouncing. This has always been the target for her.”

Unlike last year, Lahaleeb will be going on Lasix and adding blinkers this time around.