10/21/2005 12:00AM

Electrocutionist heads Europeans invading Canada

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Punctilious, training this week, turns back from 1 3/4 miles in Taylor.

The performance of hot favorite Electrocutionist in Sunday's at Woodbine will offer many clues as to the chances of the European contingent in next Saturday's Breeders' Cup Turf.

The Italian-trained, American-owned, Kentucky-bred Electrocutionist defeated Ace in the Juddmonte International by virtually the same margin that Shakespeare beat the same horse in the Turf Classic at Belmont. Last October in the Gran Premio del Jockey Club, Electrocutionist was beaten just a nose by Turf contender Shirocco. In the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on Oct. 2, Shirocco finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Bago and three-quarters of a length in front of Motivator. As both of those horses will line up for the Turf, it will pay to keep a close eye on Electrocutionist, who will be difficult to beat in Canada's premier international event.

Canadian International

Electrocutionist has been the subject of a quiet dispute between owner Earle Mack and trainer Valfredo Valiani. A former member of the board of directors at New York City Ballet and currently American ambassador to Finland, Mack was loath to send Electrocutionist to Longchamp for the Arc, fearing soft ground, which never materialized. Valiani had wanted to take the Arc-Breeders' Cup Turf route but was overruled by Mack.

With just seven races under his belt, six of them victories, the 4-year-old Electrocutionist is in a perfect position for a lucrative autumn campaign. In the Juddmonte International he beat Japanese champion Zenno Rob Roy as well as Maraahel, who was third in last Saturday's 1 1/4-mile, Group 1 Champion Stakes. All of Electrocutionist's form is rock-solid, and although he will be coming off a near 10-week absence, he will be stepping back up to his favorite distance of 1 1/2 miles. He may even be good enough to overcome soft ground should the predicted rain fall.

A pair of Irish invaders fit well but both are coming off a string of disappointing efforts.

Yeats is a lightly raced Sadler's Wells 4-year-old from the powerful yard of Aidan O'Brien. He finally seemed to be living up to his reputation in June when he led throughout to win the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom. On that day, however, he was allowed an easy lead, which suited his one-paced style of running as he slowly but steadily extended his margin over Breeders' Cup Turf entry Alkaased, who would subsequently win the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, a race which went at a much faster pace and one in which Yeats finished far behind.

In fact, Yeats is a plodder who needs everything his own way. Even a step up in distance to 1 3/4 miles for the Irish St. Leger last time exposed his limitations as he came home fourth behind a trio of avowed stayers. At Woodbine, the best one can hope for is for him to run second or third.

The Dermot Weld-trained 4-year-old Grey Swallow might be what is called a "spring horse." He won the Irish Derby in June 2004 but didn't find the winner's circle again until his seasonal debut in May when he took the 1 5/16-mile Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup by three-quarters of a length from Bago. His last two efforts at this level have been woeful. Grey Swallow would need to do an about-face in order to play a role on Sunday.

The Andreas Wohler-trained Simonas ran the race of his life last year when second in this race to Sulamani. He started his 6-year-old campaign smartly and, after a pair of subpar efforts, appears to be back on course for a big race. Simonas just missed last time in the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Preis von Europa to Gonbarda, a 3-year-old filly who was in receipt of 16 pounds, courtesy of the European scale of weights. Another second-place finish on Sunday would be no surprise.

E.P. Taylor

Like Simonas, Punctilious returns to Woodbine seeking to go one better off last year's runner-up effort. A Godolphin Racing-owned 4-year-old, Punctilious started slowly this season, but came on to win the 1 1/2-mile Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks at the same York meeting at which Electrocutionist won the Juddmonte International.

Punctilious didn't quite stay the about 1 3/4 miles when fourth, beaten 3 3/4 lengths, in the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes last time, but she acts on any sort of ground and is as good as any filly in the world at 1 1/2 miles. The pace at 1 1/4 miles, however, might be a bit too fast for her after her longer effort at Doncaster.

German shipper Iota was fifth behind Punctilious in the Yorkshire Oaks but could be a better prospect in the E.P. Taylor, especially if the ground comes up soft. A daughter of the outstanding young Darley stallion Tiger Hill, Iota was 3 for 3 prior to her Yorkshire Oaks blip, all of those victories coming on soft ground.

She was most impressive when storming to a four-length victory in the 1 3/8-mile German Oaks, a race in which Gonbarda was fourth.

Iota did suffer a second hiccup prior to the Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp on Arc Day when she flipped in the gate, necessitating her withdrawal. With rain forecast in the Toronto region for Saturday and Sunday, she should get a chance to make up for her recent faux pas.

Cassydora will be making her first North American start in the E.P. Taylor for Christophe Clement. She was a flop at 5-1 when a distant seventh in the English Oaks, and the form of her second in the 1 1/4-mile Nassau Stakes on July 30 has not worked out as the winner, Alexander Goldrun, has disappointed in her two most recent tries. Cassydora ran no better when third last time in a weak Prix de la Nonette, but she does move up on soft ground.