10/15/2003 11:00PM

Early favorite Brian Boru gets post 4


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Brian Boru, who will looking to give owner Susan Magnier and trainer Aidan O'Brien their second straight win in the Grade 1 Canadian International, drew post 4 here Thursday when a field of 11 was entered for Sunday's $1.5 million feature.

The Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, will go as the ninth of 11 races on a Woodbine program that also features the Grade 1, $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Brian Boru, an English-bred 3-year-old, is coming off a victory in the Group 1 St. Leger at Doncaster Sept. 13 and is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line set by Daily Racing Form's Ron Gierkink.

Jamie Spencer, who has ridden Brian Boru in his last three outings, has the call Sunday.

T.J. Comerford, an assistant to O'Brien, said that while the post meant little strategically, he hoped it was a favorable omen, as he was here last fall when Ballingarry broke from post 4 to win the International for Magnier and O'Brien.

Ballingarry was sold to a California-based group immediately after his win here and moved over to trainer Laura de Seroux.

The fourth choice at 4-1 here last year, Ballingarry shows just one win in six subsequent outings and has been pegged as the fourth choice, at 6-1.

Ballingarry is coming off a fourth-place finish, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap over 1 3/8 miles of turf on Aug. 31.

Mike Smith, aboard for the first time that day, retains the mount on Ballingarry, who will begin from post 11.

Phoenix Reach, owned by Winterbeck Manor Stud and trained by Andrew Balding, is the second choice at 9-2 off his third-place finish to Brian Boru in the 1 13/16-mile St. Leger. Martin Dwyer has the mount.

Other European invaders are Gruntled, a Group 3 winner in France last time out, and Sabiango, who came over from his native Germany and finished fourth behind the Breeders' Cup contender Sulamani in the Grade 1 Turf Classic at Belmont Sept. 27.

Joining Ballingarry in the U.S. contingent are Lunar Sovereign, winner of the Grade 1 Man o' War at Belmont in September; Bowman Mill, who won the Grade 2 Sky Classic here last time out; Art Variety, who captured the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs in September; and Macaw, second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga this summer.

The home team consists of Portcullis and Shoal Water, who will race as separate betting interests for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad.

Hi Dubai's status for Taylor still unclear

The outlook for the E.P. Taylor remained uncertain due to the status of Hi Dubai, the English-based 3-year-old filly who is owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

Hi Dubai is one of the leading contenders in the field of 11 entered for the Taylor, but assistant trainer Ross Campbell said the filly had bruised a heel while cantering on the turf Wednesday morning and had been restricted to walking the shed row Thursday.

"We'll be monitoring the situation," said Campbell.

Frankie Dettori is named on Hi Dubai, who drew post 4.

Walzerkoenigin, the German-based filly who is the probable favorite for the Taylor after finishing second in Belmont's Grade 1 Flower Bowl last time out, jogged on the turf here Thursday with her trainer, Peter Schiergen, looking on.

Walzerkoenigin will begin from post 9 and Edgar Prado, her rider in the Flower Bowl, retains the mount.

Woodbine is offering a new $50,000 bonus for a trainer who has horses in both the International and Taylor and accumulates the most points, based on a 10-6-4-2-1 scale. Frostad, John Hammond, and Kiaran McLaughlin are eligible for the bonus.