10/20/2005 11:00PM

Punctilious and Classic Stamp get rematch


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Punctilious and Classic Stamp finished a neck apart when they were second and third in last year's Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares here at Woodbine.

On Sunday, the two will meet again in the E.P. Taylor, which has had its purse boosted by $250,000 and will be worth a cool $1 million this time around.

While Punctilious is the probable favorite and Classic Stamp should be solidly supported, there are many possibilities in the highly competitive field of 12.

has raced five times this year, each time in England, with the highlight of her campaign being her first Group 1 win in the 1 1/2-mile Yorkshire Oaks on Aug. 17.

"That was a good win for her," said Ross Campbell, one of the assistants to trainer Saeed bin Suroor in the Godolphin empire. "She's been in good form this year."

In a subsequent start, in the Grade 2 Park Hill Stakes over 1 3/16 miles at Doncaster on Sept. 7, Punctilious finished fourth as the favorite.

"She didn't really run to her best that day," said Campbell. "But this race has been in the plans all along; she ran so well here last year."

Frankie Dettori, who piloted Punctilious here last fall, will return.

, based here at Woodbine, has a new trainer this year in Darwin Banach and a new rider in Emma Wilson.

But one constant for Classic Stamp is success in the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares that she won for the second straight time here Sept. 18.

"She's doing great," said Banach. "Everything's been just clockwork with her. Emma suits her perfectly; they seem to be very happy together.

"If she gets her pace, she's got as strong a kick as any of them down the lane."

Trainer Bobby Frankel, who sent out Commercante to win last year's E.P. Taylor, is back in with a couple of new shooters in Barancella and Stunning Rose.

, who is based at Belmont, has not seen action since May 22, when she finished a close third in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay at 1 3/8 miles.

, who has been stabled here with assistant trainer Brian Lynch, is perfect in two starts in a career that began this September. She gets a serious class test now.

Latice and Iota are the other Group 1 winners in the E.P. Taylor field.

Now based in the United States with trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Latice won the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) last year and tuned up for the Taylor with a troubled third-place finish in a minor stakes at Delaware Park.

Iota, the only 3-year-old in the lineup, won the Group 1 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) in June and will run with Lasix for the first time here.

Invading from New York are Cassydora, who will be making her North American debut after keeping some salty company in Europe and also adds Lasix; Honey Ryder, a Grade 2 stakes winner; and Finery, a Grade 3 stakes winner.

Locals Ambitious Cat, Noble Stella, and Mona Rose will be outsiders, but all are capable of making their presence felt if the chips fall their way.

The field

E.P. Taylor Stakes
Purse: $1 million; 1 1/4 miles, turf; Grade 1

1Noble StellaE. Ramsammy12315-1
2PunctiliousF. Dettori1235-2
3Honey RyderJ. Velazquez1235-1
4BarancellaE. Prado1236-1
5CassydoraC. Nakatani12310-1
6LaticeJ. Santos12310-1
7Ambitious CatP. Husbands12315-1
8Stunning RoseT. Kabel12320-1
9Classic StampE. Wilson1239-2
10IotaM. Kinane11812-1
11Mona RoseJ. McAleney12330-1
12FineryJ. Castellano12330-1

* Odds by Ron Gierkink
* Television: Sunday, 3-5 p.m. Eastern, The Score (Canada Only)