10/20/2005 11:00PM

For Meteor Storm, an International start's the thing

Michael Burns Photo Ltd.
Meteor Storm, 6, added blinkers after his fourth-place Sword Dancer finish.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Meteor Storm apparently saw enough of Shakespeare in New York, chasing home that possible Breeders' Cup Turf favorite in his last two starts.

So Meteor Storm has ventured north to Woodbine, hoping to encounter a lighter caliber of dramatis personae in Sunday's Grade 1, $2 million .

"It was either this race or the Breeders' Cup," said Aimee Dollase, who is the daughter of and assistant to Meteor Storm's trainer, Wally Dollase, and is running the show here.

"We decided after that last race to come here. It's always been in the back of our minds. He should appreciate the big, wide turns and the nice long stretch run."

Meteor Storm finished fourth behind Shakespeare, English Channel, and Ace, all of whom are scheduled to appear in next Saturday's Breeders' Cup Turf, in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational over 1 1/2 miles at Belmont last time out.

Before that, Meteor Storm finished second to Shakespeare in the Grade 2 Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Meteor Storm is a Grade 1 winner, having captured the Manhattan over 1 1/4 miles on turf at Belmont last June. The bad news is that Meteor Storm has not won in eight starts since then, with seven of those coming in 2005.

"It's just one of those things," said Dollase. "He's run well this year. He's had excuses. He flipped his palate in the Sword Dancer."

Meteor Storm finished fourth in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer, a 1 1/2-mile turf race at Saratoga on Aug. 13. King's Drama and Relaxed Gesture, the first two finishers there, are also in the International lineup.

Dollase believes Meteor Storm has benefited from the addition of blinkers, which he wore in his two starts after the Sword Dancer.

"He's a 6-year-old horse, and maybe he's had other things on his mind," said Dollase. "We were trying to get him to focus a little bit more. He has."

Meteor Storm has done his best running from off the pace, and Dollase is hoping there will be some decent early fractions in the Canadian International.

All in all, Meteor Storm may need more than his share of luck to be successful here. But the Dollase clan has enjoyed plenty of good fortune here in the past, winning the 1996 Breeders' Cup Distaff with Jewel Princess and the 2002 Atto Mile with Good Journey.

New role for King's Drama

King's Drama was well out of the spotlight in last year's Canadian International, going off at 11-1 and finishing a well-beaten fifth in his first trip to Woodbine for trainer Bobby Frankel.

But the scenario is much different this time around, as King's Drama returns as a Grade 1 winner and will be one of the major players under rider John Velazquez.

King's Drama, owned by Gary Tanaka, followed up his Sword Dancer score with a close second-place finish behind Better Talk Now in Belmont's Grade 1 Man o' War over 1 3/8 miles on turf.

But while Better Talk Now will be attempting to defend his title in the Breeders' Cup Turf, the connections of King's Drama would have had to come up with a $180,000 supplementary fee to compete there.

Frankel and Velazquez, who teamed up to win the Grade 1, $1 million Atto Mile with Leroidesanimaux last month, will be looking to become the first trainer and the first jockey to add a Canadian International score to an Atto victory in the same season.

Frankel has two for Taylor

Frankel also will be looking for second straight success in Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes after sending out the victorious Commercante last year.

Frankel's candidates this year are Barancella, who arrived from New York along with King's Drama early Friday morning, and Stunning Rose, who has been based here with a Frankel assistant, Brian Lynch.

Barancella, also owned by Tanaka, ran second last fall in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. She comes into the E.P. Taylor off a third-place finish in Belmont's Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay over 1 3/8 miles on turf back on May 22. Stunning Rose, owned by Stronach Stable, has been very impressive in winning her maiden and a first-level allowance in her only two starts, but will be an outsider.

* The last trainer to pull off the Canadian International-E.P. Taylor double was Luca Cumani, with Infamy and Sudden Love in 1988. The last jockey to do it was Gary Stevens, with Royal Anthem and Zomaradah in 1998.