10/06/2005 11:00PM

Stakes raised on International Day

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
King's Drama, winning the Sword Dancer, is expected in the International.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine rolled the dice two years ago when it moved the Canadian International and the E.P. Taylor Stakes back to the third week in October, just six days before the Breeders' Cup.

The International and the Taylor, both Grade 1 turf races, had been run at the end of September in 2001 and 2002, positioning both races as preps for the comparable Breeders' Cup events, which were run in California and Texas those years.

This year, Woodbine has upped the ante, with the Canadian International purse going from $1.5 million to $2 million and the E.P. Taylor from $750,000 to $1 million. As an added International Day incentive, the purse for the Nearctic, a Grade 2 turf race at six furlongs, was doubled from $250,000 to $500,000.

Time, of course, will tell whether the Woodbine events will steal some of the thunder from the following Saturday's Breeders' Cup Day at Belmont. The lists of nominees for the three races, released Friday by Woodbine stakes coordinator Julie Bell, include some high-profile horses whose connections have expressed an interest in the proceedings here.

Electrocutionist, a Kentucky-bred 4-year-old colt owned by Earle Mack of New Jersey, has had the 1 1/2-mile Canadian International on his agenda since being removed from consideration for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe because of the expected soft going at Longchamp. Trained by Valfredo Valiani, Electrocutionist is a nose away from being undefeated in seven starts and is coming off back-to-back Group 1 scores, in the Gran Premio di Milano at San Siro and the Juddmonte International at York.

Yeats, an Irish-bred 4-year-old colt trained by Aidan O'Brien, also is looking toward the Canadian International after finishing fourth in the Group 1 Irish St. Leger at The Curragh last time out. In June, Yeats won the Group 1 Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Grey Swallow, an Irish-bred 4-year-old colt trained by Dermot Weld, has the Canadian International in his plans after finishing sixth in the Group 1 Irish Champion at Leopardstown last month. Last year, Grey Swallow won both the Group 1 Irish Derby and the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh.

American invaders expected for the International include King's Drama, Fourty Niners Son, and Laura's Lucky Boy.

A 5-year-old gelding trained in New York by Bobby Frankel, King's Drama won the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga in August and then finished second to defending Breeders' Cup Turf champion Better Talk Now in the Grade 1 Man O' War at Belmont.

Fourty Niners Son, a 4-year-old colt trained by Neil Drysdale, won the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch at Santa Anita last Sunday. Laura's Lucky Boy, a 4-year-old colt trained by Richard Mandella, finished fourth there, beaten two lengths.

Heading the list of local hopefuls for the International is A Bit O'Gold, a 4-year-old gelding who won last Sunday's Grade 2 Sky Classic.

A pair of European 4-year-old fillies are possible for the 1 1/4-mile E.P. Taylor: Kinnaird, a major upsetter for trainer Patrick Haslam in the Group 1 Prix de l'Opera at Longchamp last Sunday, and Punctilious, who finished second in the Taylor last fall for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

Latice, based south of the border with Jonathan Sheppard, has had the E.P. Taylor on her agenda. The locally based nominees include Classic Stamp, who was a close third in the Taylor last year.

Gold and Roses shipping from U.S.

Sunday's $164,550 Ontario Derby at 1 1/8 miles attracted some interest from the United States, with Gold and Roses and Devilment among the field of eight 3-year-olds.

Gold and Roses, based at Belmont with trainer Tom Bush, is coming off a third-place finish in the 1 1/8-mile Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 24. Bush will be making his third visit here this year, having sent out Cuba to finish second in the May 23 Eclipse and third in the July 30 Seagram Cup and Shelterfromastorm to run seventh in the Sept. 11 Natalma.

Devilment, currently at Keeneland with trainer Michael Stidham, is coming off a ninth-place finish as the lukewarm favorite in the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 14.

Stidham's only previous starter here this year was Honey Gold, who finished last of seven in the July 2 My Dear.

U.S. also represented in Grey Stakes

The field for Monday's Grade 2, $275,750 Grey Stakes also includes two U.S. shippers among the field of seven: Derby, a Kentucky-bred trained by Joe Orseno, and Unification, an Ontario-bred trained by Eoin Harty.

The Grey Stakes is a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-olds.

Unification will be making his second appearance at Woodbine, having shipped here to win his maiden over 6 1/2 furlongs in his second career start here Sept. 17. Unification was not made eligible for the Cup and Saucer and Coronation Futurity, the two major races for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds this fall.

Monday's Thanksgiving Day program also includes the $125,000 Classy 'n Smart, a 1 1/16-mile race for Ontario-sired fillies and mares. The race attracted just four entrants.

Because of the Monday program, Thursday will be a dark day this week.

* The LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society's first annual gala raised over $70,000, the organization announced this week. Included in the Sept. 23 fundraiser, which was attended by more than 300 people here in the trackside tent, were live and silent auctions that netted approximately $40,000.