10/20/2004 12:00AM

History gives push to European-based fillies

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - European-based 3-year-old fillies have dominated the E.P. Taylor Stakes since the early 1980's.

The trend began in 1982, when Vidor started a run of nine straight Taylor victories for overseas 3-year-olds. They had another five consecutive wins from 1994 through 1998 and also won in 2001 and 2002.

Last year was an exception, as the 5-year-old Volga and 4-year-old Tigertail ran one-two in the Grade 1, $750,000 E.P. Taylor.

The field for Sunday's renewal of the 1 1/4-mile turf fixture for fillies and mares is expected to contain a very dangerous trio of 3-year-olds in Punctilious, who is based in England, and Asti and Ometsz, both from France.

Owned by Godolphin Stable, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, and ridden by Frankie Dettori, Punctilious is a proven Group 1 performer who has been freshened with the Taylor in mind.

"She's been well-thought-of since way back," said assistant trainer Tony Howarth, who checked in with Punctilious and her Canadian International-bound stablemate Sulamani last Sunday. "She's got some top-class form."

A winner in 2 of her 3 starts at 2, Punctilious began her current campaign with a six-length romp in the Group 3 Musidora over about 1 5/16 miles at York. Punctilious, an English-bred daughter of Danehill, has started four more times since then, all at 1 1/2 miles.

After finishing third in Epsom's Group 1 English Oaks, beaten 10 1/2 lengths by Ouija Board, Punctilious won the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Ascot. Following the Ribblesdale, Punctilious finished second, beaten a length by Ouija Board in the Group 1 Irish Oaks at The Curragh.

Ouija Board, Europe's best 3-year-old filly, has been pre-entered in both the Breeders' Cup Turf and Filly and Mare Turf after finishing third in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

In her last start, the Aug. 18 Yorkshire Oaks at York, Punctilious finished a distant fourth behind Quiff, whom she had handled in the Ribblesdale.

"She was a little bit flat on that day; we were slightly disappointed with her," said Howarth. "The ground wasn't ideal, and once she was beaten [Dettori] was easy on her. She got a rest after that. We basically treated her with kid gloves, with this race in mind."

Godolphin and Suroor will be seeking their first Taylor score. Dettori rode Timarida to victory in the 1995 running of the E.P. Taylor.

Asti, trained by Elle Lellouche, arrived here Tuesday afternoon and will be making her first start for United States-based owner Joe Allen, who also campaigned Volga.

An Irish-bred daughter of Sadler's Wells, Asti finished second in her third career start, in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamp in May. But she failed to follow up on that effort in three subsequent appearances, including a ninth-place finish in the Prix de Diane.

In her last outing, though, at Longchamp on Oct. 2, Asti raced against males and finished fourth, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths in the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein over one mile.

The winner, Cacique, had run second to Bago, subsequent winner of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in two Group 1 races in June.

Asti will be ridden Sunday by Richard Migliore, who was aboard Volga here last October.

Ometsz has finished behind Asti in two previous encounters, running fifth in the Prix Saint-Alary and 15th in the French Oaks, but has won listed stakes in her last two starts

An Irish-bred daughter of Singspiel, Ometsz is trained by Rodolphe Collet, who sent out Tigertail last year, and will be ridden by Edgar Prado.

Collet's father, Robert, won the 1994 Taylor with Truly a Dream and the 2001 Taylor with Choc Ice.

Ometsz arrived here Monday along with fellow Taylor candidate Samando, a 4-year-old who was a Group 2 winner at Longchamp Oct. 2.

Brice Blanc has picked up the mount on Samando, who is trained by Francois Doumen.

Ontario to have four in Breeders' Cup

Four Ontario-based horses - Soaring Free, Royal Regalia, Strut the Stage, and Higher World - were among the 94 pre-entrants for the Breeders' Cup program at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

Soaring Free, winner of the Grade 1 Atto Mile for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad here last time out, is in the main body of the field for the Breeders' Cup Mile. Regular rider Todd Kabel has the call on Soaring Free, who is slated to arrive at Lone Star on Tuesday.

Royal Regalia, third in the Atto Mile for Stronach Stable and trainer Justin Nixon, is the first alternate for the Mile and is a probable participant. Jorge Chavez will ride Royal Regalia, who was based at Fort Erie and then at Adena Springs North following the conclusion of the Fort Erie meeting.

Royal Regalia checked into Lone Star on Tuesday.

Strut the Stage has a spot in the Breeders' Cup Turf if he goes in that race over Sunday's Canadian International, for which he is one of three Sam-Son candidates. Frostad would not commit to either race for Strut the Stage on Wednesday morning.

"We'll go over everything and make a decision," he said.

Patrick Husbands will ride Higher World in the Juveneile Fillies. Higher World won the Grade 2 Mazarine Stakes here in her last start, and is owned by Sea Soft Stable and trained by Mark Casse.

Higher World is scheduled to arrive in Texas on Sunday along with stablemate Cut and Shoot, who is slated to run in the Oct. 29 Lone Star Derby.

Owned by Stonerside Stable, Cut and Shoot is coming off a second in the 1 1/16-mile prep for the Ontario Derby here Sept. 18. The Grade 3, $250,000 Lone Star Derby also is at 1 1/16 miles.

Both horses worked five furlongs over the main track here Wednesday, with Higher World clocked in 1:02.60 and Cut and Shoot in 1:02.

E.P. Taylor candidates
Grade 1; $750,000; 1 1/4 miles, turf

HorseTrainerJockey
AstiE. LelloucheR. Migliore
Classic StampC. HopmansP. Husbands
CommercanteR. FrankelJ. Velazquez
DimitrovaN. DrysdaleK. Fallon
HeyahohowdyA. KatryanR. Sabourin
Inish GloraM. BensonT. Kabel
Mona RoseE. BarnettE. Rosa da Silva
OmetszRod. ColletE. Prado
PunctiliousS. bin SuroorF. Dettori
SamandoF. DoumenB. Blanc