10/17/2007 11:00PM

Sealy Hill takes on invaders in E.P. Taylor

EmailETOBICOKE, Ontario - With so much buildup on Sunday's Canadian International, the E.P. Taylor Stakes perhaps has not been given it's due.

The fact is, however, that Sunday's Grade 1, $1 million E.P. Taylor has drawn a competitive field of 10 fillies and mares, headed by the talented French invader Mrs. Lindsay and including the solid American shippers Safari Queen and Barancella.

That fact is not lost upon trainer Mark Casse, who will be looking to keep the E.P. Taylor trophy here in Canada with Sealy Hill.

"It's just so tough to handicap," said Casse. "Some of the best fillies in the world are in there. We'll see if she fits in that category."

Sealy Hill, owned and bred by Eugene Melnyk, became the first winner of the triple tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies this year. The accomplishment was not cut and dried, however.

After winning the 1 1/8-mile Woodbine Oaks Sealy Hill was disqualified from her first-place finish in the next leg of the series, the 1 1/16-mile Bison City. Sealy Hill went on to capture the 1 1/4-mile Wonder Where in her turf debut and recently became the retroactive winner of the Bison City following a successful appeal to the Ontario Racing Commission.

In her next start, seven weeks after the Wonder Where, Sealy Hill faced older fillies and mares for the first time in the Grade 2 Canadian, the 1 1/8-mile turf race that is the major local prep for the E.P. Taylor. She couldn't run down the loose-on-the-lead Essential Edge - who also will run in the E.P. Taylor - and finished a neck back as the runner-up under regular rider Patrick Husbands.

"I think she's doing better than ever," said Casse. "She's a big, strong filly now."

Quijano favored in International

Quijano will be looking to become the first German-bred to win the Grade 1, $2 million Canadian International.

Paolini came close in 2001, when beaten a half-length as the runner-up in his first of two Canadian International appearances. But whereas Paolini was almost 10-1 in his first visit, Quijano has been made the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Sunday's 1 1/2-mile turf feature.

Quijano, who arrived here a week ago Thursday, has had plenty of time to get acclimatized and appears to have taken to his new surroundings.

"He looks good," said Gisela Schiergen, who is the wife of Quijano's trainer, Peter Schiergen, and will saddle Quijano here Sunday. "He traveled fine. It was always on the plan to go here."

Peter Schiergen's previous starters here all ran in the E.P. Taylor - Iota, who was eighth in 2005, and Walzerkoenigin who was fifth in 2003.

Jockey Andrasch Starke, Quijano's regular rider, finished fourth aboard Caitano in the 2000 Canadian International in his only previous visit here.

TV coverage

The Canadian International and the E.P. Taylor Stakes will be featured in a live two-hour broadcast beginning at 2:30 p.m. Sunday on The Score.

The E.P. Taylor will go as the fifth race at 2:59 p.m. with the Canadian International going as the seventh race at 4:05 p.m.

Hosts for the telecast will be Jim Bannon, Jeff Bratt, Sandy Hawley and Renee Kierans.

Three locals in Breeders' Cup

Arravale, Bear Now, and Clearly Foxy all are Kentucky-breds but will be flying the flag for Woodbine on next Saturday's Breeders' Cup card at Monmouth Park.

Arravale, a 4-year-old, has been pre-entered in the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf, Bear Now is in the $2 million Distaff, and Clearly Foxy in the $2 million Juvenile Fillies.

Arravale will be seeking her first win while making her fifth start of the season. Arravale won the E.P. Taylor last year en route to being named Canada's Horse of the Year and champion turf female.

"I'm sure it's going to be a tough spot, but that's where the man wants to go, so that's where we'll go," said trainer Mac Benson, referring to owner Bob Costigan.

Arravale is scheduled to breeze on Monday and will leave for Monmouth Park on Tuesday or Wednesday. Regular rider Jose Valdivia has the call on her in the Filly and Mare Turf.

Bear Now, a 3-year-old owned by Danny Dion's Bear Stable and trained by Reade Baker, is 4 for 7 this year, including a win in the Grade 2 Cotillion in her latest start, at Philadelphia Park.

"When you're going for that kind of money you've go to expect a tough field," said Baker, looking at the Distaff lineup. "I am disappointed at the size - often, it's not such a big field."

Bear Now, who will be ridden by regular rider Jerry Baird, is scheduled to breeze on Sunday and leave for Monmouth on Tuesday.

Accompanying Bear Now to Monmouth will be Jazz Nation, a 2-year-old filly who won her only start here and is scheduled to run in Monmouth's $250,000 Favorite Trick on Friday.

Clearly Foxy, 2 for 2 at Woodbine, will be trying a surface other than turf for the first time in the Juvenile Fillies.

"We weren't going to go, but she's trained so well she's talked me into it," said trainer Mark Casse. "With my other Breeders' Cup horses, I've put them in. She put herself in there."

Patrick Husbands retains the mount on Clearly Foxy, who left for Monmouth on Thursday.

Canadian TV crew at Monmouth

Woodbine also will have a crew at Monmouth this week for the Breeders' Cup. They will air reports on Woodbine's HPI tv beginning Monday night and continuing every morning and evening. Woodbine's simulcast channel will air the Breeders' Cup reports Wednesday through Sunday.

* Jockey Richard Dos Ramos recorded career victory number 2,000 aboard Gracelicious in Thursday's third race at Woodbine. Dos Ramos, a 45-year-old native of Trinidad, won his first race at Greenwood in Toronto aboard Lord Henry on April 20, 1981.