09/19/2009 11:00PM

Forever Together preps for Breeders' Cup


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Forever Together, last year's Eclipse Award-winning turf female, will be returning to Woodbine for Sunday's Grade 2, $300,000 Canadian.

The Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, is the major local prep for the Grade 1, $1omillion E.P. Taylor over 1 1/4 miles on turf here Oct. 17 and attracted a field of seven.

But Forever Together, who is owned by George Strawbridge Jr.'s Augustin Stable and is trained by Jonathan Sheppard, again is using Canadian as one of her stepping-stones to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, which she won to sew up her title last year.

Forever Together was beaten three lengths in last year's Canadian, which was run on a course rated yielding and was won by J'ray with Callwood Dancer second and Sealy Hill fourth.

"Initially, we were slightly disappointed to see her finish a well-beaten third there as an odds-on choice," said Sheppard. "We put it down to the unstable condition of the ground. It was very soft, and she was giving away weight."

Following the E.P. Taylor, in which Callwood Dancer finished second, Sealy Hill third, and J'ray fourth, Sheppard reevaluated Forever Together's Canadian performance.

"In retrospect, it was a better effort than it seemed at the time," said Sheppard.

Forever Together, coming off a game win in the Grade 1 Diana over 1 1/8 miles of good going at Saratoga on Aug. 1, again will be the 124-pound highweight in the Canadian and will have regular rider Julien Leparoux in the irons.

Heading the locally based contingent are Points of Grace and Much Obliged, a pair of Kentucky-bred 4-year-olds who are conditioned by Malcolm Pierce.

"They both had good breezes here last Sunday, and they're as good as they can be," said Pierce.

Points of Grace won the Grade 2 Dance Smartly over 1 1/8 miles of good going here July 11 and then finished a troubled fifth, beaten three lengths, in the Grade 1 Beverly D. over 1 3/16 miles on good turf at Arlington.

"She came back home and has been aiming for this race since then," said Pierce.

Much Obliged is perfect in two starts here this season, having won over seven furlongs on turf while competing under third-level allowance terms and over a mile and 70 yards on Polytrack in the off-the-turf prep for the Victoriana Stakes.

"It's time for her to step up, and try a little stiffer company," said Pierce.

Luis Contreras, who rode Points of Grace to her Dance Smartly score, returns for the Canadian while Patrick Husbands retains the mount on Much Obliged.