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Deep group of Europeans for E.P. Taylor
ETOBICOKE, Ontario - English invaders Rainbow View and Look Here, winners of Grade 1 stakes with hopes of heading on to California for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, will be the hot items in Saturday's E.P. Taylor Stakes.
But another pair from across the pond have shipped in well under the radar for Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor for fillies and mares over 1 1/4 miles of turf.
Eastern Aria, trained by Mark Johnston, and Lahaleeb, trained by Mick Channon, both have been set at 12-1 on the morning line for the eight-horse E.P. Taylor field.
Johnston has had five previous starters here, all in the Canadian International, with a sixth on tap for Saturday in leading contender Jukebox Jury. His best International returns came with runner-up Fruits of Love in 1998 and third-place finisher Yavana's Pace in 2002.
Channon has never started a horse at Woodbine.
Eastern Aria, a 3-year-old filly who was bred in the United Arab Emirates, has been a going concern in her first campaign this year, with 7 wins in 15 starts.
While she has yet to start in a group stakes, Eastern Aria was a smart winner of a listed stakes over 1 1/2 miles of good-to-soft turf at Saint-Cloud last time out in her first start outside England.
"She's really tough and genuine, and we thought we may as well take her chance here," said Hayley Kelly, who is a traveling manager for Johnston and accompanied Eastern Aria and Jukebox Jury on their journey here along with groom Alison Marshall and exercise rider Rhona Bagnall. "She won at a mile and a half last time, but her main trip is a mile and a quarter."
Both Eastern Aria and Jukebox Jury will be ridden by Roland Ffrench, who will be making his Canadian debut.
Lahaleeb, an Irish-bred 3-year-old, won a Group 2 stakes over seven furlongs of good going at Newmarket in her final start last year and a Group 3 over seven furlongs of soft turf in her 2009 opener at Newbury.
Winless in five subsequent starts, Lahaleeb missed by a neck as the runner-up in the Irish Guineas over heavy ground and was two lengths behind third-place Rainbow View when fifth in the Group 1 Coronation on a good-to-firm course at Ascot.
Both of those races were at a mile and Lahaleeb will be racing beyond that distance for the first time here with William Buick picking up the mount. Buick will be in town to ride Buccellati in the Canadian International.
"We're hoping to get a bit of cut in the ground," said Andrew Larkin, traveling head lad for Channon, who accompanied Lahaleeb here along with groom Elaine Harwood. "She should get 10 furlongs. We'll see how the race pans out; she should be able to sit comfortably. She always tries her hardest, and this is a nice surface. I think she'll like it.
Joining the four Europeans in the E.P. Taylor lineup will be Princess Haya, Salve Germania, and Treat Gently from south of the border, plus local longshsot Roses 'n' Wine.
Lady Shakespeare to Keeneland
Lady Shakespeare had been heading for the E.P. Taylor until an invitation for Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup turned up in trainer Roger Attfield's office.
So Attfield, who is well aware that the better part of valor is discretion, will be watching Lady Shakespeare run in the Grade 1, $500,000 turf race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles while he remains here to saddle Spice Route for the Canadian International.
"It would be easier to do it here, but that race at Keeneland has to be easier," Attfield said. "It's for 3-year-olds, it's a Group 1, and it's an invitational. I don't think there's any real difficulty making that decision."
Lady Shakespeare breezed four furlongs in 50 seconds here Wednesday morning under her regular rider Emma-Jayne Wilson, who has the mount for the QEII.
Over a firm turf course with the dogs out, Lady Shakespeare went in company with Spice Route and his regular rider Jim McAleney.
"They just sat them together and let them gallop along," Attfield said.
Storm Treasure eyes another Cup
The Nearctic, a six-furlong turf race for 3-year-olds and up, tends to get lost in the shuffle of the Canadian International Day program despite its Grade 2 status, $500,000 purse, and Breeders' Cup Win and You're In provision.
And while this year's 11-horse field lacks a standout, it could prove to be launching pad for a second run at Santa Anita's Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint for Storm Treasure.
A 6-year-old horse trained by Steve Asmussen, Storm Treasure rallied strongly to be beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the fifth-place finisher in last year's Nearctic and then unleashed a similar move at Santa Anita while beaten by the same margin when third in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint.
While his late rally hasn't been effective in five starts this year, Storm Treasure has hinted in his last two outings, which included a third-place finish behind Hollywood Hit and fellow Nearctic contestant Bogue Chitto in the six-furlong King Corrie on the main track here Sept. 30.
"He got out of it what we wanted him to there," said assistant trainer Hank Gensler, who had entered Storm Treasure in the Nearctic prep which was scrapped after failing to attract enough entrants. "Hopefully, he hasn't lost a step too much."
Storm Treasure will be ridden by Luis Contreras, who is the stable rider for the Asmussen outfit here.
Other prominent candidates in the Nearctic field include Jungle Wave, winner of the Grade 2 Play the King over seven furlongs of turf and fourth in the Woodbine Mile for trainer Sid Attard; Heros Reward, who captured the 2007 Nearctic and was a close fourth last year for trainer Dale Capuano; and Chamberlain Bridge and Little Nick, the one-two finishers in the five-furlong Turf Monster at Philadelphia Park last time out.
* Trainer Malcolm Pierce has entered Mullins Beach in the $100,000 Franklin County, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race for fillies and mares at Keeneland on Friday, and El Brujo in the Grade 3, $150,000 Perryville, an about seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds there Saturday.
Eurico Rosa da Silva will travel down to ride Mullins Beach, while Robby Albarado has picked up the mount on El Brujo.