10/01/2008 11:00PM

Invaders figure to lead the way in E.P. Taylor


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - J'ray, based at Belmont Park, and European shippers Folk Opera and Toque de Queda lend an international flavor to Saturday's $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes.

The Grade 1 E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares, is a Win and You're In race for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but none of the top three contenders are Breeders' Cup nominated.

J'ray, a New York-bred 5-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, earned top billing in the E.P. Taylor with her impressive come-from-behind victory in the Grade 2 Canadian, a 1 1/8-mile turf race here Sept. 7.

"She's trained very well since the Canadian," Pletcher said. "She's not a filly that you have to do a whole lot with between races, so she's kind of had a pretty easy schedule in between.

"She had a nice easy work and came out of it well," added Pletcher, who sent out J'ray to breeze four furlongs in 52.02 seconds on Tuesday on the Belmont training track.

Folk Opera, an Irish-bred 4-year-old trained by Saeed bin Suroor, is coming off an eighth-place finish in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille at 1 1/2 miles at Longchamp on Sept. 14.

"She likes to dominate her races, make the running," said assistant trainer Claire Sparks, who is here with Folk Opera. "She got shuffled back a bit last time, and from then on things didn't go very well.

"But she's been a star for us. She's very consistent."

Prior to the Prix Vermeille, Folk Opera had won the Group 2 Prix Jean Romanet at 1 1/4 miles at Deauville.

Frankie Dettori, who has ridden Folk Opera in her last three starts, will be here for the mount Saturday as the filly races with Lasix for the first time.

Toque de Queda, an English-bred 4-year-old who is based in France with trainer Mike Delzangles, was dismissed at 53-1 when making her North American debut in Arlington's Grade 1 Beverly D. on Aug. 9.

Following her third-place finish there, in which she was beaten two lengths by the talented Mauralakana, Toque de Queda will be accorded considerably more respect here under new rider Garrett Gomez.

Callwood Dancer and Sealy Hill, who finished second and fourth, respectively, in the Canadian, represent the best hopes for the home team in the E.P. Taylor.

Sealy Hill finished second behind the very talented Mrs. Lindsay in last fall's E.P. Taylor but has failed to duplicate that form this year for trainer Mark Casse.

Callwood Dancer, trained by Roger Attfield, has been steady this season, with 3 wins in 5 starts including the Grade 3 Nassau at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Hostess, seventh in last year's E.P. Taylor, returns for trainer Jim Bond after scratching from Belmont's Flower Bowl last Saturday due to the off going.

Royal Pleasure, based in the eastern United States with trainer Jonathan Sheppard, and Green Lyons, a California candidate trained by Neil Drysdale, are the other shippers from south of the border.

Outsider Classy Landlady completes the Woodbine contingent.

- additional reporting by David Grening