Updated on 09/17/2011 5:48PM

International will belong to Mubtaker, if ground is good


NEW YORK - The state of the ground could have a bearing on the outcome of both big international races at Woodbine on Sunday, when the turf course for the 1 1/2-mile and the 1 1/4-mile E.P. Taylor is expected to be either good or something on the soft side of good.

Perfectly good ground, the preferred surface of most European-trained horses, would negate any advantage for both the firm-ground types and the soft-ground lovers. Any substantial rain over the weekend would favor Sulamani, Brian Boru, Simonas, and Ecomium in the International. The same would hold true for Ometsz in the E.P. Taylor.

Canadian International

Sulamani is the big European name here, and he appears to be coming up to this race in top form for Godolphin. Freshened since having beaten subsequent Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner Bago into third in the Group 1 Juddmonte International at York on Aug. 17, Sulamani has won five Group 1 or Grade 1 races in four different countries. A 5-year-old son of Hernando, Sulamani will enjoy Woodbine's long stretch, as three of his Group 1 wins - at Chantilly, Nad Al Sheba, and York - have featured stretches that are at least 2 1/2 furlongs in length.

Frankie Dettori, the best jockey on the planet, has the ride, but Sulamani may be vulnerable to the challenge of the consistent, top-class Mubtaker. Skeptics might argue that his last effort, when seventh in the Grosser Preis von Baden, revealed a chink in his armor, but the ground that day at Baden-Baden was choppy and yielding. Mubtaker just couldn't handle it, finishing out of the first three for the first time in 19 career starts.

A 7-year-old son of Silver Hawk, Mubtaker has been nagged by minor injuries throughout his career. If he gets good ground, or even good-to-soft ground, expect a performance on the order of his excellent second to Dalakhani in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - and victory in the Canadian International.

Brian Boru, brought to us by the powerful team of Aidan O'Brien and Mrs. John Magnier, cannot be overlooked. The Sadler's Wells 4-year-old, a fast-closing third in last year's International, has been running at distances in excess of 1 1/2 miles this year, but is adaptable enough to handle the cutback. Mubtaker and Sulamani, however, are a class above him.

Simonas, another who disliked the strange ground at Baden-Baden, has never faced the likes of Sulamani or Mubtaker on ground they could handle. What this Irish-bred son of Sternkonig has going for him is trainer Andreas Wohler, a man who understands the international game. If the Wohler-trained Paolini does well in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in Australia on Saturday morning, it would boost the slim chances of Simonas at Woodbine.

According to trainer Jeremy Noseda, Ecomium is in Canada "with nothing to lose." The 3-year-old son of Sadler's Wells, a $600,000 yearling, has run just twice, and while he is certainly on the improve, victory would be asking too much at this stage. A finish in the first five would point him out as one to follow next year.

1-Mubtaker, 2-Sulamani, 3-Brian Boru

E.P. Taylor Stakes

Punctilious was just a length behind Ouija Board in the Irish Oaks, and Ouija Board is currently the second choice in the Breeders' Cup Turf. By the deceased stallion Danehill, Punctilious is the Godolphin entry in the E.P. Taylor, and as such will have Dettori in the saddle. Although her last three outings have been at 1 1/2 miles, her six-length romp in the Group 3 Musidora Stakes over slightly longer than the E.P. Taylor's 1 1/4-mile distance points her out as the one to beat.

Ometsz, trained in France by Rodolphe Collet, has looked good in her last two starts, and would appreciate some give in the ground. But she has never run well in this kind of company and has finished behind Asti twice. Asti's last two tries came at an inadequate seven furlongs and a mile, the last a staying-on fourth vs. older colts in the Group 2 Prix Daniel Wildenstein. Improvement is expected as she returns to her favorite distance, so she has an upset chance.

Samando is cutting back in distance after a 21-1 upset of older fillies in the Group 2 Prix de Royallieu at 1 9/16 miles, and may find the pace of the E.P. Taylor a little on the quick side. The North American threat is the ex-French-based Commercante, who really would appreciate 1 1/2 miles but who seems to be getting the knack for American racing and will relish Woodbine's long stretch.

1-Punctilious, 2-Commercante, 3-Asti