10/17/2007 12:00AM

Euros meet again in International

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - Ask and Honolulu, the first- and third-place finishers in the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot in England on Sept. 30, will renew their rivalry on this side of the Atlantic in Sunday's Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International at Woodbine.

Ask won the Cumberland Lodge, a Group 3 stakes run over 1 1/2 miles of good-to-soft going, by two lengths, with Honolulu beaten three-quarters of a length for second.

And while both colts should be well backed in Sunday's Canadian International over 1 1/2 miles of turf, it is Ask who should receive the most support.

Ask, a 4-year-old, was purchased privately as a jumping prospect at the end of last season but wound up returning to the flat and is 2 for 2 for new owner Patrick Fahey.

There was a significant gap between those two starts, however, as Ask took the Group 3 Ormonde over 1 3/4 miles at Chester on May 11 and had been away for 4 1/2 months prior to the Cumberland Lodge.

"He had an infection in the back of his pastern, which grew down to his foot," said Stuart Messenger, here with Ask in his capacity as an assistant to trainer Michael Stoute. "We had to let all that grow out, and just had to give him the time he needed. We got him right for that last race.

"This is a step up in class again, but he's always been a nice horse."

Stoute is no stranger to the spotlight in major races here, having sent out Singspiel to win the 1996 Canadian International. Stoute returned four weeks later to watch Pilsudski and Singspiel finish one-two for him in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Ryan Moore, who rode Ask in the Cumberland Lodge, will be making his North American debut.

Honolulu hails from the Irish yard of trainer Aidan O'Brien, who won the 2002 Canadian International with Ballingarry and sent over Brian Boru for third-place finishes in the 2003 and 2004 runnings.

Unraced last year at 2, Honolulu has started six times this year and has made rapid headway, finishing third in the Group 1 St. Leger prior to the Cumberland Lodge.

"He's been running well, running consistently," said Pat Keating, an O'Brien assistant who accompanied Honolulu on his trip here along with exercise rider Lyn McKeown. "This race has been in the plans.

"He's traveled well. I couldn't be happier with him."

Mick Kinane, who rode Ballingarry to his Canadian International victory here, will partner Honolulu for the first time and also has the mount on Four Sins for Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor.

Four Sins strong at Taylor distance

Four Sins will be overshadowed by fellow European shipper Mrs Lindsay in the E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1o1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares. But Four Sins, a German-bred 3-year-old who is trained in Ireland by John Oxx, comes into the E.P. Taylor with solid credentials.

Four Sins is 2 for 2 at 1 1/4 miles this season, having won the Group 2 Blue Wind over good going at Naas in May and the Group 2 Blandford over good-to-fast going at the Curragh on Sept. 14, her last start.

In her two interim appearances, Four Sins was well beaten in the English Oaks and the Irish Oaks over 1 1/2 miles of off going.

"This distance is perfect for her," said Jimmy O'Neill, who along with Grace Canniffe accompanied Four Sins on her trip here. "This race has been her target for a while. We're just hoping the ground doesn't get very soft; that might be against her."

Oxx sent out Timarida to win the E.P. Taylor Stakes in 1995.

Dark Missile chases history

Dark Missile will be looking to become the first European shipper to capture the $500,000 Nearctic, a Grade 2 race over six furlongs of turf here Sunday.

Trained in England by Andrew Balding, Dark Missile also will be looking to be the first filly to win the Nearctic since Gurkhas Band turned the trick back in 1975 when the race was contested on the main track.

Dark Missile, a 4-year-old, has faced males in 11 of her 16 starts and has been in particularly good form this year.

In her last start, at Ascot on Sept. 30, Dark Missile was beaten a nose in the Group 2 Diadem, which was run over a straight six furlongs of good going.

"I don't think she'll have any trouble coming around the bend here," said Leanne Masterton, who gallops Dark Missile and accompanied the filly on her trip west along with groom Michael Cheshire.

Balding has enjoyed significant success here, winning the 2003 Canadian International with Phoenix Reach, the 2005 Wonder Where with Silver Highlight, and the 2005 Play the King with Vanderlin. He also won an allowance race here with Santiago Star in 2005.

Martin Dwyer, who was aboard all four of Balding's Woodbine winners, will pilot Dark Missile for the first time in the Nearctic.

Dark Missile also will race with Lasix for the first time.

Trio of allowances top Friday card

Three allowance races, each with a field of eight, are among the nine races here on Friday's program.

The day's largest purse is up for grabs in the seventh race, a $66,800 second-level allowance for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.

Knightly Attire, coming off a closing second at the same classification and stretching from six to seven furlongs, looms the horse to beat.

Two-year-old fillies will go in the $62,800 second race, a first-level allowance for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs.

Lady d'Wildcat, coming off a third-place finish in the six-furlong Victorian Queen, is moving from Ontario-sired to open company but still figures prominently.

In the sixth race, a field of eight competes in a first-level "B" allowance worth $36,700. Sail Cloth, a close seventh last time out when making his first start in almost two months, is moving from turf to Polytrack and won his debut over the surface and distance on May 11.