07/18/2007 11:00PM

Sky Conqueror favored to repeat


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Sky Conqueror won last year's inaugural Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Stakes and has been made the 9-5 morning-line favorite for the second running of the Grade 2, $700,000 feature here Sunday.

A field of eight was entered Thursday for the 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Sunday's blockbuster program also will include the Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares that will mark the return of Canada's reigning Horse of the Year, Arravale.

Sky Conqueror, trained by Darwin Banach, was Canada's champion turf horse last year and became a Grade 1 winner in the Woodward Reserve Turf Classic this May.

Edgar Prado will make his first appearance aboard Sky Conqueror, who is coming off a close second-place finish here in the Grade 2 King Edward at 1 1/8 miles on turf and will begin from post 7.

"I love it," Banach said of Sky Conqueror's draw. "He had the 1-hole last year when he finished third in the Canadian International, and he kind of got squeezed out at the first turn.

"He should avoid that problem here. He can fall out of there and do his thing."

Jambalaya, the second choice at 7-2 in Woodbine oddsmaker Jennifer Morrison's morning line, drew post 2 and again will have Javier Castellano in the irons.

Jambalaya, trained by Catherine Day Phillips, also notched his first Grade 1 victory this year, in the Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup. Jambalaya finished third, a neck behind Sky Conqueror, in his meet debut in the King Edward.

Obrigado, trained in California by Neil Drysdale, and Marsh Side, based in Maryland with trainer Michael Dickinson, add spice to the Northern Dancer lineup.

Obrigado, who will have Garrett Gomez in the irons, will begin from post 8 and is the 4-1 third choice in the morning line. He comes off a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham Handicap at Santa Anita on June 9.

Marsh Side, 10-1, will break from post 1 under Emma-Jayne Wilson and will be racing for the first time since shipping in to win the 1 3/4-mile Valedictory over the main track here last Dec. 10.

Rounding out the field are the locally based French Beret, Last Answer, Pellegrino, and The Carbon Unit, who will be making his first start for Roger Attfield.